As a busy college student, I toiled around the kitchen once every few weeks or so. Our pilgrimages to that lightly-visited room of our apartment were mainly for snacks or the occasional drunk-food cooking session. However, in my last year of undergrad—with some newfound time, thanks to my lighter course-load—I decided to devote a bit more time to cooking. With my limited funds, I wanted to get as creative as I could. I drew inspiration from my high school obsession with Italian culture, thumbing through a few hand-me-down cookbooks and scouring the internet. If Italians are known for anything, it’s their dedication to cook time: everything I was finding required, at a minimum, two hours of my time. Right around then, a friend and I went to dinner at a local Italian place, and I rediscovered a long-lost love—a delicious Italian bruschetta recipe.
Bruschetta is often offered as an appetizer. Modern day, chefs from around the world have created their own “play” on this Italian classic. Universally, we can all agree that the snack consists of a crostini (or toasted bread) base, and it’d topped with a variety of fresh veggies, sauces, and—at times—meats. The bruschetta you may be familiar with: a toasted piece of baguette bread topped with diced tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and olive oil. With this knowledge, I decided to play around with various ingredients in order to concoct the perfect bruschetta recipe for my friends and I. What follows is the ever-so-delicious result! The recipe serves four (two if you’re *really* hungry) and takes about an hour. It’s perfect when you need something kind of mindless to do—lots of prep work/chopping—or when you have something small to work on—lots of down time in between batches!
What You’ll Need
- Stove top
- Large skillet
- Large bowl
- Cheese grater
- Pastry brush (optional)
- Serving tray/plate (optional)
- A sourdough baguette
- 2 red beefsteak tomatoes
- 1 fennel bulb
- ½ an onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 jar (7-8 oz.) of minced garlic
- 2 tbsp. of butter
- ½ of a cup of shredded Old Amsterdam Gouda cheese
- 2 cups of shredded basil
- Salt & pepper
- Drizzle of olive oil
- Slice the baguette into half-inch or inch-wide slices
- Dice the tomatoes, onion, and garlic cloves
- Separate the fennel stalks from the bulb, dice the bulb to mimic the tomato pieces
- Grate the cheese
- Shred the basil
What You’ll Do
Heat the olive oil in the large skillet on medium. Toss the onion, diced fennel, and diced garlic into the skillet.
Mix everything frequently until the onions are slightly brown. Remove from the pan and toss in the large bowl to cool.
Clean the skillet, put it back on the stove, and turn the heat to high. Place as many baguette slices as will fit into the skillet on toast on either side for 1 minute each (or until they’re slightly brown). Set each batch aside as they’re completed.
Once you’ve toasted all of your baguette slices (you’ll likely have about three to four batches), turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the butter and the jar of minced garlic—heat until butter is melted.
Place the baguette slices back into the mixture, letting them rest for 1 minute on both sides to coat them in the mixture. You can add another tablespoon or two of butter between batches if need be. Set them on a serving tray/plate if you have one.
Toss the tomatoes into the big bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
Scoop out small portions of the veggie mixture and top the baguette slices with each.
Finally, pluck the small needle-like leaves from the fennel stalks and sprinkle the leaves, the shredded cheese, and the basil over the top of each piece.
Enjoy the fresh, homemade bruschetta as a dinner side, a cocktail party app, or a movie-night snack! You’ll likely have some of the tomato mixture left over: my roommates and I would either toss it in a side salad or we’d make another half of a baguette the next day—to each their own.