We didn’t do anything particularly special for Valentine’s day. If we weren’t so busy, we might have gone out for a nice dinner over the weekend or something, but that just didn’t work out this year. Don got me my favorite peach roses, which the cat has been happily snacking on when we’re not looking, but other than that we elected to just have dinner at home and not get too excited. That said, we did take the opportunity to treat ourselves to a favorite — bruschetta.
I’ve generally avoided making bruschetta too often because it involves an awful lot of chopping, if you make the “standard” topping of tomatoes, onions, and basil. And we all know that I’m kind of lazy. But I had an epiphany last week (I’m prone to epiphanies, you may have noticed) over bruschetta at an Italian restaurant, made with an extra layer of pesto. Bruschetta isn’t really one simple thing, or even something that requires — or even accomodates — a recipe. It’s really more of a concept. And, like all great concepts, it encourages creativity.
So we took a few of our favorite flavors and put them together in, quite literally, the easiest possible fashion. A baguette, sliced* and drizzled with oil. I stuck the slices on the grill pan for kicks, although next time I’ll probably just fling them onto a cookie sheet and into the oven for a few minutes — or maybe onto the pizza stone, to make sure they’re extra crispy. Then pesto, the fresh kind from the grocery store. When it’s summer, I’ll be making my own, since I proved last year that I can capably grow basil in a volume beyond anybody’s actual capacity to use it. But for now, since it’s winter, I gave in and used deli pesto. May the basil gods forgive me. It was good, anyway, so I doubt they’ll care. I slathered a thin layer of pesto on each browned and crispy slice of baguette, then sliced up fresh tomatoes and plopped a slice on each piece. On top of that, a slice of fresh mozzarella.
Onto a cookie sheet, then, and into the oven for significantly less than two minutes along with whatever’s in there for dinner proper. Unless this is dinner, then just stick it under the broiler for a second. All you want to do is get the mozzarella even creamier by letting it just start to droop and melt; if the tomatoes and pesto get a shock of warmth, even better. Then it’s out of the oven and onto some sort of plate — a serving platter, if you’re nice, your dinner plate, if you’re hungry — and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the whole thing.
And there you have it. Bruschetta, our way (for now). Happy eating.
*Since I’m only cooking for two, I actually sliced the whole baguette and then put half of the slices in a freezer bag and popped them in the freezer for later. Next time I want to make bruschetta (which may wind up being tonight, I’m drooling as I type this), they’ll be ready to go. I can either warm them up in the microwave first or just pop them directly into the oven.
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Tags: appetizer, basil, bruschetta, easy, fast, mozzarella, tomato