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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bruschetta




Sometimes, having leftovers is not a bad thing. 

Leftover breads, for example.

Earlier this week, I made whole wheat hard rolls for pulled pork sandwiches. Not knowing exactly how many people would be at lunch, I made a large batch of dough--when you're working with yeast breads, it takes hardly any effort to make more. So we had plenty of rolls and there were more for a light supper with a friend. Still, there were three large buns waiting to be used. My first thought was to freeze them, but then I remembered that I would need to take some finger foods to a fellowship gathering.

Hearty rolls = great base for bruschetta. All the other things I'd need were also in my refrigerator, so it didn't take long to turn three large sandwich buns into twenty four appetizer-sized bruschettas.

A key to bruschetta is to use good bread as a base. However, the bread can be a little dry, and that's okay; in fact, it might just keep your base a little firmer.

You also don't want to have the bread layer too thick, because the real flavor should come from the toppings. When using leftover rolls or buns, this will almost always mean you will want to slice the rolls into more layers than for a sandwich.

To begin, I cut each of my unsliced rolls into four thin pieces. When using pre-cut rolls from the store, just cut each half into two slices. Then, because these were large, sandwich-sized rolls, I cut each of these slices in half.

As for the toppings, I had several "basic" ingredients already in the house. There are many options in putting together bruschettas, but mine are at least a little Italian in character. Use what you have in the refrigerator, experimenting a bit until you get the flavor combination you like.

I bought some sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil when they were on a great sale awhile ago. These will keep for quite a long time in the refrigerator so long as you always keep a good layer of oil over the top of the tomatoes. As you will see in this recipe, that oil becomes an important, flavor-adding ingredient too. I also had gotten some fresh tomatoes on sale, so I could use those to stretch the more expensive sun-dried ones and also get the benefit of the brighter color the fresh ones brought.

Mushrooms have been on sale so I had some of those, and I buy black olives in a large bag from Costco. These two will keep for an extended time in the refrigerator so long as you make sure there is always bring covering the olives. If either of these are not available or too pricey for this week's budget, they can be omitted.

As for the garlic powder: definitely plan to use minced fresh garlic if you have it, but always have garlic powder on the shelf for those times when the fresh cloves have all been used up for the last recipe.

As for the cheese: There seems to be a little bit of a split opinion on whether "real" bruschetta has cheese. To be honest, one of the main reasons I include cheese is that putting it under the broiler just long enough to melt the cheese is to hold the overall topping ingredients together. Without that "glue," I sometimes feel that half the tomatoes and other toppings all end up falling back on the plate--or the floor or my lap or anywhere except where I want it to be.

One side benefit of doing a little research on whether or not real bruschetta has cheese, I discovered that the original Italian dish was developed as a means to use up leftover bread and marinary sauce. So I guess today's recipe is extra authentic in that regard! A perfect recipe: tasty, quick to make, and frugally using the best of yesterday's bread!


Mushroom and Sun-dried Tomato Bruschetta

4 oz fresh mushrooms, chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 c sundried tomatoes, packaged in oil
1 T oil from the sundried tomatoes
1/2 t garlic powder, or to taste
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t dried Italian seasoning
seasoning salt, to taste
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 to 3 T sliced black olives--optional
app 1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
3 large hard rolls

1.   Saute the onions, sundried tomatoes, and mushrooms in the sundried tomato oil over medium to low heat for about 15 minutes, until the onions are beginning to caramelize. Add the seasonings about 5 minutes before removing the mixture from the heat.



2.  Meanwhile, slice each hard roll into four thin slices.

3.  Heat a very lightly oiled griddle or cast iron skillet until quite hot. Lay the roll slices in the pan (you will need to do this in batches) and allow to brown on one side. Turn the slices over and brown on the second side.


Remove from skillet or griddle and cut each toast in half, making half moon slices. Place on a baking sheet.

4.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees OR turn on the broiler.

5.  When the rolls are all toasted, stir the diced Roma tomatoes into the mushroom mixture. Place a generous spoonful of this mixture on each slice of the rolls and spread over the surface.



6.  If using the olives, sprinkle a few slices over the top of the mushroom mixture. Sprinkle the mozzarella over each bruschetta, covering the filling evenly.

7.  Place the tray in the oven and bake/broil just until the cheese is melted and barely starting to color. Do not allow to turn too brown!



Best when served fresh from the broiler.  Makes 24 bruschetta servings.


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