Monday, April 23, 2012

Bruschetta: Tomato Basil & Red Pepper-Goat Cheese

With the warmer weather hopefully just around the corner, it's time to start dusting off your favourite summer recipes. A delicious and easy appetizer, there's no other recipe that shouts summer than this classic Tomato & Basil Bruschetta. 'Bruschetta' is from the Italian "bruscare," which means "to roast over coals," and refers to the bread rather than the toppings, of which there are many delicious variations. Traditional bruschetta always starts the same way: thick slices of baguette toasted to a golden brown, rubbed with cloves of raw garlic then brushed with good quality olive oil — and you're set. 

In addition to the classic Tomato & Basil Bruschetta, I also made a Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Bruschetta with Thyme, as small antipasti with a simple and delicious Italian aperitivo — Arance Sanguigne e Prosecco, freshly squeezed blood oranges and Italian Prosecco. Served in many restaurants in italy before the start of a meal, these two light and fresh Bruschetti and an bubbly fruit cocktail are the perfect way to launch yourself into summer. 

Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Bruschetta with Crumble Fresh Thyme


Serves 8 as a appetizers

1 Loaf crusty French or Italian baguette

3 cloves garlic
, peeled and cut in half length-wise
1/4 cup good olive oil

Tomato Topping:

3 cups ripe plum tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Maldon salt & fresh ground back pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup fresh, chopped basil

1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Topping:
10 oz Woolwich Dairy fine herb goat cheese
1/2 cup marinated red bell peppers, julienned
1 tbsp fresh thyme

Mix together the tomato topping ingredients, cover and and set aside.
 Cut the bread into diagonal slices about 3/8-inch thick, place on a baking sheet and set in the oven at 475°F. Bake until just golden, about 5-8 minutes — watch carefully to make sure they don't get too brown. Remove the bruschetta from the oven, and using the fresh cloves of raw garlic, rub one side of each of the toasts. Next brush a little olive oil on each toast. 

Top half of the toasts with the tomato mixture and garnish generously with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Top the other half of the toasts with a good slather of goat cheese, a small mound of marinated red peppers and garnish with crumbled fresh thyme. Serve together as a delicious savoury appetizer.

Fresh Squeezed Blood Orange Juice and Prosecco 

Arance Sanguigne e Prosecco
Blood Orange Juice and Prosecco 
Serves 4-6

5 blood oranges
1 bottle Prosecco, or Crémant de Bourgogne, chilled

Freshly squeeze the juice from 5 blood oranges, then pour through a strainer to get rid of any pulp. Discard the solids and pour the remaining juice in a small jug and chill until required. To serve, pour the chilled Prosecco into champagne flutes, about half way or three-quarters up the glass and top with blood orange juice. Garnish with a slice of orange or twist of peel. 

COOK'S NOTE: Prosecco can be mixed with other fruit juices, such as pink grapefruit or pomegranate, in a ratio of 1 part juice to 2 parts Prosecco. The key is to ensure that all of the ingredients are cold.

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