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My first bruschetta…an insight into the whole Italian cooking thing

There is this scene in Julie & Julia where Julie Powell and her husband, Eric absolutely devour a platter of bruschetta (thanks to our new surround-sound speakers, we got to hear every smack and munch). I have seen this movie twice and both times have been so afflicted with visions of fresh bread, tomatoes and oil that I can hardly stand it!

True to form, I watched the movie last week and couldn’t get it [the bruschetta] out of my mind…so, feeling ever so French, I stopped for a baguette and some fresh herbs on the way home tonight and thought I’d just figure it out on my own. Note: recipes often stress me out–I envision hours of standing over the stove, dirtying hundreds of dishes, working myself up into a state, and coming up with something that my husband wishes would just have been ramen noodles, so I thought, “I won’t look up a recipe!” in the spirit of EZ saying “‘Well then, I’ll do it myself!’ said the little red hen.”

1 baguette
light olive oil – I used the light kind that is good for sautéing and baking
3/4 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
3 cans tomatoes, drained – I used 1 15 oz. can diced, 1 10.5 oz can diced with green chilis, and 1 15 oz. can whole stewed (the idea is use whatever you’ve got!)
fresh basil, shredded (plus some extra for garnish)
fresh oregano, shredded
shredded mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese for garnish
plenty of butter – listen to Julia! “You can never have too much butter!”
salt and pepper to taste

Make the topping:
Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a 10″ skillet and add chopped onion and garlic. Sauté lightly for about 5 minutes or until onions become translucent. Add all tomatoes; the diced go in as is, crush the whole tomatoes by hand as you add them to the pan. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes to reduce some of the extra liquid, then add fresh basil and oregano to taste. I found that a little oregano goes a long way for me – the fresh kind is more pungent than the dried! Stir to mix thoroughly and reduce heat to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to your own taste.

Toast the baguette slices:
Slice the baguette to 1/2 inch slices and butter both sides of each slice. Place on a baking sheet and put them under the broiler for just about a minute or less – watch them! When the edges are light golden brown, turn (tongs are handy for this) and toast on the other side until edges are light golden brown. Keep in mind that they will go back under the broiler to melt the mozzarella, so don’t let them get too dark now.

toasty baguettes!

Remove from broiler and top one side with a little mozzarella cheese. Return to the broiler and cook for another 1-1 1/2 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve the baguette toasts immediately and let your diners spoon warm bruschetta onto their bread! Keep extra shredded basil and parmesan cheese on hand for garnish!

bon appétit!

I must add that we had a little hearty burgundy with this and it turned out to be a divine, fresh, Springtime meal! It was 89 degrees in Philly today–too hot for meat or soup! I tend to enjoy “assemble your own” food, and I loved how we ate our dinner slow and savored it. The melted mozzarella underneath the sauce is delectable and using the can of tomato with chilis must have added some heat, which was unexpected but very welcome. I’m starting to get the whole idea of fresh, simple Italian cooking!