I am looking for some new toppings for bruschetta. It will precede a fairly difficult entree and side for my dinner party, so I would like something that I can make a day in advance and just spoon onto grilled bread. Any suggestions? Also, could a chicken liver topping be made in advance and re-heated, or will it be too dry?
Saute a small onion and a clove or two of garlic in a few tb of olive oil until soft. Add a half pound of chicken livers with their juice and saute until the color changes. I add a tb or so of a mixed spice purchased in Campo di Fiore. Whiz in a food processor and refrigerate. No need to reheat before topping toasted bread. Just made some Saturday. Keeps for a week or so.
The Boston Globe had a feature on just this topic yesterday.
Click on the link below for recipes for:
BRUSCHETTA WITH ZUCCHINI AND FONTINA CHEESE
BRUSCHETTA WITH OLIVES AND MASCARPONE
BRUSCHETTA WITH ROASTED PEPPERS AND ANCHOVIES
BRUSCHETTA WITH FRESH RICOTTA, FIGS, AND TOASTED SAGE
BRUSCHETTA WITH FRESH MOZZARELLA AND TOMATOES
BRUSCHETTA WITH PROSCIUTTO, MOZZARELLA, AND ARUGULA
Basically, you can put anything you like on toasted bread. So, here is a chance to be creative and dazzle your guests with something very simple. For everyday meals, I generally don't even plan them ahead but throw them together with whatever is lying around, use up leftovers, etc.
Oil: Our favorite is simply very good bread, dried to slightly stale, grilled or broiled, drizzled with very good olive oil and sprinkled with crunchy salt such as maldon. This is the simplest to do of any bruschetta (and the real "cucina povera") and doesn't take any more time than assembling bruschetta with other toppings. But you need excellent ingredients for it to stand out.
For guests, I sometimes make several types of bruschetta to serve all together. One will always be oil, as above. Another will always be some type of vegetable, whatever is in season. Unfortunately, right now, the best is tomato, and I don't think you would want to make this a day ahead. I have given some other vegetable options below. The nice thing about all these options, as well as the plain oil and bread, are that people are always amazed they are so good. The secret is in using high quality oil, using salt as a condiment not a seasoning, using good country-type bread that is nicely toasted, and not overloading the bread with toppings. You want there to be a good balance of all the ingredients and to let the bread, oil, and salt shine through and not be overpowered by a vegetable.
The third type will be some meat or fish, although technically these are crostini and not bruschetta (and the oil is technically fett'unta or oiled slice). Most often this will be chicken liver; I posted below about chicken liver crostini under chicken livers, and I've included a link to my post. You can make them a day in advance. If they are a bit dry, just add water when you reheat them. Sometimes I add water until they are soupy and I let them heat on the back of the stove while doing other things. This way, they don't burn. If they are still too runny, just turn up the heat and cook away the excess moisture. You can probably reheat them in the microwave, although I have never tried this. They are very forgiving.
Grilled vegetables: You might try a grilled vegetable such as radicchio or belgian endive. I grill (you can broil if you don't have a grill)them early in the day, douse with olive oil and then lay the vegetable on top of the bread at serving time. The radicchio is nice when cooked till the edges are almost crispy and the endive until the edges are well cooked but the center is still almost crunchy. This way, there are a range of flavors in the vegetable, from a hint of bitterness in the crunchy part to an almost sweetness where they are well-cooked. Halve the endive or quarter them if they are really fat. I usually grill several entire radicchio leaves individually. If you are going to broil them, you might be able to slice the radicchio into thin slices and use a pancake turner to move them when they are cooked (otherwise they fall apart). Be sure to brush them well with olive oil before cooking and drizzle them with fresh oil afterward, especially if you are going to keep them overnight.
Roast peppers: fantastic/1 Blacken the skin over a flame or under the broiler, peel and chop finely. Add olive oil minced parsley, and some chopped capers. You also could probably make this into a puree.
Beans: Another topping that is very good is beans. Soak cannelinni or borlotti beans and them cook them very slowly in a covered pot with only enough water to barely cover. Pour some olive oil in the pot and toss in a sprig of sage. Watch them and add water a little at a time only if you need to. Don't boil--just simmer. Don't add salt until the skin breaks if you blow on a bean. If you want to take the time, saute some sage leaves in oil until they are almost crackling and top each bruschetta with one.
Boiled vegetables: In winter, I might make cabbage or cauliflower as a topping. Broccoli would also be good. For cauliflower or broccoli, cut small pieces, making sure to cut the flowers in half so there is a flat edge to lie on and they don't roll off the bread. For cabbage, I use the large leaves cut in two so they will fit on the bread when folded over. Cook until soft again in a small amount of water with some oil in it. Keep them in the cooking broth till you reheat them. Lie the pieces on the bread, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with good salt.
Tapenade: I make my own with a mixture of black olives, chopped capers, minced parsley, chopped anchovy, olive oil to correct consistency and a touch of wine vinegar. Do not omit the anchovy even if it sounds icky and you think some people don't like anchovies. Just use a small amount, and it gives the tapenade a wonderful flavor that nobody will be able to identify unless they have a very good palate. Anchovy-hating friends devour them anyway and have never complained.
Sun dried tomato and ricotta: mince the tomatoes and add in some chopped capers, small amount of the oil from the tomatoes, and salt. Just before serving, mix with ricotta (drained if it is too runny), adjust salt, and spread on the bread. I sometimes pair this with olive and ricotta, which is basically tepanade mixed with ricotta.
Artichoke: In the spring, I cook artichoke hearts and stems with lemon juice and white wine vinegar. Mince them very finely and add some lemon zest (I sometimes cook slices of lemon with the artichokes, and I'll mince this in instead). Add olive oil to correct consistency. A good addition is minced black olives.
Meat and seafood options
A great one is using leftover pasta meat sauce or leftover meat from a meat stew, but you can make them specifically for this purpose. For the stew, cook onion, celery, and carrot (perhaps garlic) in oil; add the meat and brown lightly; add rosemary or sage, perhaps juniper berries and saute a minute; add broth and an abundance of wine and cook until all the liquid is gone and the meat falls apart.
Tuna: Good quality tuna in olive oil, with chopped capers, a touch of white wine vinegar, and soft butter (not mayo) to hold it together. This works better if you put the mix in the blender.
Shrimp: Cook quickly in salted vegetable stock. While still warm, remove shells, slice in half, and put into lemon juice marinade with a crushed clove of garlic minced parsley, and chopped red pepper or roast pepper. Before loading onto bread, toss garlic, drain marinade and dry off slightly, and slick them with some olive oil.
Anchovy: These have to be heated but are fantastic if you like anchovies. Simply blend anchovies and soft butter until you like the taste balance. Spread on stale bread and top each with a caper and pop under the broiler for a couple of minutes until bubbling.
Bread: Be sure to use good bread, as I've said ablove. You can thinly slice a good country loaf and cut the slices in half. I also have sliced a baguette, put the slices on a rack in a baking pan and popped under the broiler for a minute or so on each side. These can be cooled and kept in a plastic bag overnight until you are ready to use them.
Anyway, I guess you can see that this is one of my favorite things to make.
This is a basic question: do you want to serve the bruschetta (the toast itself) warm or room temperature? If I could get away with toasting the bread the night before and then just adding the toppings before serving, I'd be thrilled. But I guess I've always thought of the toast itself as warm. What's the buzz?
Canellini beans (cooked until tender but not mushy), generous amount of olive oil, plus balsamic, garlic, some basil, salt and pepper - served at room temp of course.