As it is already quite obvious, Italian is one of my favorite styles of cooking. The marriage of fresh and crisp ingredients create irresistible flavors that melt in your mouth. The huge variety of simple yet flavourful plates that Italian cooking has to offer is really something any cook, beginner or experienced, can take advantage of in order to create a truly magnificent plate. As a plus, Italian cooking is relatively simple; not many ingredients are needed in order to make a truly exceptional dish.
When it comes to appetizers, Italians have a dish that trumps chips and salsa all day, every day. Bruschettas are an Italian appetizer that is, simply put, a garnished toast full of flavor and colors. Bruschettas are made all throughout Italy and depending on where exactly they are being made, different ingredients are used, however, olive oil and garlic are the two definite musts for this dish.
Today I decided to play a little with this appetizer and I prepared a Tomato and Mozzarella Bruschetta and a Mushroom and Basil Bruschetta.
- 1 Baguette (or 2 mini Baguettes)
- 8 Pear (or Saladette) Tomatoes
- 2 cups of Basil
- 6 medium-big Button Mushrooms (clean and dried)
- 1/4 of a cup or olive oil
- 1 garlic clove cut in half
- 250 grams of fresh mozzarella
- 1/2 a teaspoon of Oregano (+ extra for garnishing)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 350° F.
For the Tomato and Mozzarella Bruschetta dice six tomatoes and chop 1 cup and 1/4 of Basil leaves chiffon style. Mix both of these ingredients with a little bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Set aside.
For the Mushroom and Basil Bruschetta, put a pan over medium heat with a little bit of olive oil, about 1/2 a teaspoon of pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of oregano. Mix well and once hot, add the sliced mushrooms and let cook for about six minutes. Afterwards add two diced tomatoes and let cook. Adding these tomatoes will give it more flavor and will prevent the mushrooms from drying out too quickly. Taste, and add salt if needed.
Grab the baguette and cut it into 1/2 an inch slices. Spread them in a baking tray. You can use a pastry brush to spread the remaining olive oil into the slices. Once this is done, grab the half of the garlic clove and rub it into the bread. (If you wish to have a stronger taste of garlic, add one of the halves of the cloves to the oil beforehand and rub the other half in the bread as well.) Place the tray into the oven and set the timer to 4 minutes.
After the timer has gone off, take the tray out of the oven and add small slices of the fresh mozzarella to the individual slices of bread. Put the tray back in and set the oven to Broil. Keep and eye on the oven and make sure your soon-to-be Bruschettas don’t get burnt!
Once the cheese has browned, take the tray out and carefully add the Mushroom-Basil mix to half of the slices. Make sure to turn the heat back down to 350°F in the oven. Take the other half of the slices out and set them in a plate. Put the tray back in for a couple of minutes. Grab the remaining slices and add the Tomato-Basil mix into them.
Garnish the Tomato and Mozzarella Bruschettas with fresh Mozzarella, and sprinkle a bit of oregano over them. Take the tray out of the oven, set the Mushroom and Basil Burschettas in a plate and garnish with a bit of fresh Basil.
The fresh and sweet taste of Pear tomatoes combined with the buttery taste of fresh mozzarella make this a beautifully light appetizer. On the other hand, the woody taste of fresh Button mushrooms combined with the aromatic and peppery basil create an earthy taste and a dish with amazing contrast. I truly hope you enjoy this dish!
Feel free to add any other ingredients you wish, and always remember that if you have any comments or suggestions for what I can cook next please let me know!