From my Roots: The Ultimate Bruschetta

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[From left to right: Sicilian flag and Maltese flag] 

Being of Maltese and Sicilian decent, I wanted to share my foolproof way to make the humble tomato bruschetta. In Malta they call it Hobz Biz-Zejt, which simply means bread and oil. It’s up to you what else you add. Usually it’s whatever my Nona’s got in her larder.

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Bread from: Norwich Providore (Norwich Market)

Pomodorino Tomato Bruschetta

Slice bread diagonally and on each side rub with some smashed cloves of garlic

Place the bread in oven with a drizzle of oil and grill or bake until toasty, making sure the bread doesn’t colour too much.

Chop fresh Pomodorino tomatoes (or vine tomatoes) and add torn basil leaves, grated garlic (it’s up to you how much you use. I often use two cloves for two people which is pretty generous), pinch of sea salt, some black pepper and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Combine the mixture with your fingers.

When the bread is toasty, spoon on the tomato mixture and top with shavings of Parmesan or mozzarella cheese. Drizzle with some truffle oil or olive oil.

You can then lightly grill the assembled bruschetta, but I prefer the freshness of the tomato mixture at room temperature. When the tomato starts to cook it takes on a slightly different flavour and texture and looses it’s perkiness somehow.

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Twists on your humble bruschetta:

Here are just a couple of my favourite ways to top artisan bread. These work well as a casual starter or canapé:

Broad bean, mint and pancetta: Make a dressing of finely grated garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and chopped mint and pour over a handful of peeled, cooked broad beans. Top with slices of crispy pancetta.

Butter bean & chorizo: Blend butter beans, olive oil and garlic – spread on bruschetta bread. Top with pan-fried chorizo and fresh chilli

Caramelized shallots with balsamic and goats cheese. Simples.

Fig & Pea Shoots: Fresh figs, mascarpone cheese, sugared walnuts and pea shoots. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Plum sausages and champ: Spread a layer of plum chutney on the bruschetta bread. Add a piping of buttery or cheesy mash potato. Top with a thick slice or two of home-reared sausage.

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