Bruschetta is my favorite fast food. It usually consists of just two steps:
- Toast bread
Yes. I’m talking about topping stale bread with leftovers.
My mother is a big user of leftovers. She’ll proudly tell anyone who will listen (basically me, my sisters and random strangers) that she made a delicious soup out of various things left in the fridge. Usually - but not necessarily - including previously dressed salad from a restaurant she went to earlier in the week.
But my ‘leftover’ bruschetta are not quite as grim as my mother’s soup sounds. Especially if you start out with great bread and your left overs involve things like fresh ricotta and spring asparagus. (sorry mom)
When you say bruschetta (or, as my mother says ‘brushetta’), most people immediately think tomatoes. And I agree, it’s hard to beat grilled bread topped with August tomatoes, and maybe a bit of salt and oil. But bruschetta can be so much more. Anything in fact.
But first a few bruschetta basics. Slice the bread thick enough so it doesn’t burn, but not too thick so you can’t bite into it easily. The thickness will depend on your bread, but a half inch is about right.
Grilling over wood is obviously best (and I’m sure my sister has something to say about the grilling part) . But really, who wants to light a fire just to toast bread, right? Although you can resort to the toaster or broiler, my method of choice is a stove top toaster pan I bought in a market in Florence about 25 years ago. I’m sorry I didn’t take a photo of mine (it’s out in Todi, and I’m here in Rome now) but you can see it here. It costs about 10 euros these days, and is available in most old fashioned house ware stores in Italy. The guy who sells gadgets in Campo de’ Fiori also has them. They make GREAT take home gifts for your foodie friends.
The little perforated metal tray sits atop the gas flame of your stove and voila - bruschetta.
But, back to my ‘leftover’ bruschetta.
Domenico and I were out in Todi, working in the garden. (Ok, Domenico was doing most of the garden work, while I was taking a long walk to pick wild asparagus). Come lunch time, I’d managed to pick a handful of wild asparagus, but not quite enough for a real meal. Looking in the fridge I realized we also had:
- 1/3 cup of leftover fresh ricotta from Orte
- 8 stalks of steamed asparagus from dinner the night before.
Grabbing my sort-of-stale loaf of bread, I had delicious asparagus ricotta bruschetta in about 10 minutes.
Domenico asked where I got the recipe.
Family secret. (thanks mom)
Asparagus Ricotta Bruschetta
(makes four bruschetta)
6 stalks steamed asparagus
small bunch wild asparagus (or pencil thin asparagus)
1 small clove garlic, chopped
1/3 cup ricotta
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices of bread
Cut the wild asparagus into 1 inch size pieces.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in small pan. Over low heat, cook garlic for 1 minute. Add wild asparagus, and cook till just tender enough to eat, about 4 minutes or so. Add salt to taste. Set aside.
In a small food processor, blend steamed asparagus, ricotta, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper.
Divide ricotta mixture between the bread. Top each with the wild asparagus.
Although the asparagus version of this recipe was fantastic, feel free to experiment. I’m thinking peas, fave, zucchini and even string beans would be delicious. (and no, mom, leftover salad is not gonna work)