Friday, March 30, 2012

Notebook nostalgia and a classic appetizer: Bruschetta

The weirdest things make me sad…

Like I’m sure many of you do, I keep all of my recipes and notes in a spiral notebook (which must have been from my high school years, based on the ridiculous things written on the first few pages).  It’s a pretty thick book and when I started my blog, I thought it would take eons to fill up all those pages. Apparently eons equates to a year and a half, because I am now searching for tiny blank spaces to write a new recipe. There are a few blank pages left, which I’m saving for lengthy recipes, but other than that, it’s about done. And that makes me all sad and nostalgic. Sniff, sniff…

Part of what I love so much about this notebook is that it is absolutely trashed. It has the requisite red wine spill that makes any cookbook look well loved, along with plenty of food stains and oil spatter. For some reason, our very tenacious cat has taken to gnawing the METAL spiral binding, so it is completely squashed together, making it a bit difficult to turn the pages. Andy and I used the very last page as a makeshift Pictionary game at some point, and every time I see it I wonder what in the world we were trying to draw. So you see…with so much character, how could I not be sad to retire it?

Okay, okay…enough with the ode to my notebook. The reason I bring it up is because this bruschetta was one of the first recipes I ever wrote in it. I made it a few times and it was always a big hit, but then the pages started to fill up with new recipes and it got pushed further back in my mind. This happens to be one of Andy’s biggest gripes: I make a dish that he loves, then never make it again because I’m onto the next thing. But the other day, as I was flipping through the beginning of the book looking for some inspiration, I saw this recipe and Andy’s eyes lit up at the mention of it.

Obviously, there are bruschetta recipes galore and I haven’t reinvented the wheel here. But it’s a great recipe and one that I was very proud of when I first started cooking without a guide. A few tweaks to a typical bruschetta make this version stand out. For starters, the bread is basically fried in butter and olive oil…it’s hard not to like that. The tomatoes cook for just a minute, which when tossed in warm with the garlic and onion makes for a heavenly aroma. Pinenuts offer a little crunch and Gruyere cheese tops the hot fried bread. Did I mention the bread fried in butter???


Makes about 12

10 ounces tomatoes, deseeded and chopped (I use grape or cherry tomatoes)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons toasted pinenuts
2 tablespoons chopped basil
2-4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for tomatoes
12 slices Filone bread (at least 1/2" thick)*
Gruyere cheese, grated

*Note: If you can’t find Filone bread, substitute with very fresh sweet baguette. (Bread that is a bit past its prime gets too hard when fried.)

In a bowl, combine garlic and onions.

Heat a small drizzle of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add tomatoes to pan and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for for 1-2 minutes, until tomatoes are just starting to soften. Immediately add tomato mixture to garlic and onions. Stir lightly and reserve.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When very hot, add bread slices and fry each side until golden brown and crisp. (If pan is not large enough to fry all the bread at once, fry in two batches. You may have to wipe out the pan and add more butter and oil if butter gets too brown.)

Remove bread and drain on paper towels. Top immediately with grated cheese.

Stir pinenuts and basil into tomato mixture. Check seasonings and adjust as needed.

Top bread with a spoonful of tomato mixture.

This appetizer is about good, simple flavors that combine into a perfect bite. I had forgotten how fantastic this bread is, especially when it’s still warm. But I will warm you: this is not first date food…there is no way around the garlic breath with this one, but it’s totally worth it.


  1. Love Bruschetta and this one is really special Karen! Frying your bread in butter? wow Adding pine nuts and of course the key in ingredients are fresh ripe tomatoes. I also had a few of those books filled with recipes.

  2. Your bruschetta looks stunning and love those stand-by recipes that always are a big hit...even if it is far in between making them. My husband has the same gripe, besides having to wait until after the photos before we can eat, he likes a dish and he never see's it much after that! I have to say I have several notebooks and even picked up a smaller one that I can take with me. I do like the wine stains on's truely loved! :)

  3. Oh how I love a classic bruschetta :) looks beautiful, well done! :)

  4. Your photos are georg!!! I love the pinenuts in the recipe they are one of my favorite things!! That notebook sounds special :) I have many cookbooks and cooking magazines with the classic wine spill/smell :) xo

  5. Oh, this looks like the perfect bruschetta topping. My hubby gripes about the same thing...mostly that I don't make his Nestle's Tollhouse cookies nearly you, I'm on to the next recipe :)

  6. Oh I'm so excited to see tomatoes here;-) Your photos are lovely and I would love a bite of bruschetta, that would make me very happy!

  7. You had me at fried bread! This appetizer is so delish and the simple ingredients make it all the better. I'll take the garlic breath!

  8. I love classics like this bruschetta. And I have a crazy notebook of recipes and notes too. It sits with my it's never really retired :)

  9. I can see why these are a favorite...pretty to look and full of flavor! I would love some of these with a nice glass of wine on a warm Texas afternoon!!

  10. Bruschetta is one of my favorite things too. It is so easy to make, but so flavorful and pretty!

  11. Congratulations on top 9 today! I absolutely love bruschetta and this looks fabulous. :)

  12. your new design looks amazing your a star food blogger love this

  13. Delicious looking bruschetta! I love how the bread is fried in butter - they must taste wonderful.

  14. Great article!
    Thank you for sharing your culinary knowledge with the world.
    Your photo and its’ source have been featured on the World Food Guide website

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