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.