Bruschetta (bru-sket-ta) is an Italian appetizer, and one of my favorite foods from Italy. It is so simple, but with superior ingredients, and like most other Italian dishes, the less fuss the better. This version starts with garlic rubbed and grilled ciabatta bread, which is then topped with fresh mozzarella, succulent peaches and tomatoes, and drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction. There are few other things that make me as happy as eating bruschetta (a lot of it has to do with my obsession with olive oil and bread!). When people ask me, “what would be your last meal?” It would be this, simple and delicious.
This is also one of my go-to appetizer recipes for entertaining. If you have the tomatoes or other toppings ready, you just toast your bread when your guests arrive, and then top the bread with your toppings. Guests will love the smell of the garlic-brushed bread coming out of the oven, as well as the warmth of the bread, among cold appetizers.
I was inspired to make this variation of classic bruschetta with peaches, from working in a local restaurant. The chef there is very conscious of supporting local farmers and sources great quality produce and proteins. With good ingredients, there is no need for much else! The sweetness of the peach is the perfect complement to the tomato, and can even almost taste like a dessert at times, depending on the sweetness of the peach and tomatoes. If you can find them in season, use colorful heirloom tomatoes, and if you are making this in the colder months, use sweet cherry tomatoes. This is a base, but feel free to substitute fresh mozzarella for low-fat ricotta, goat cheese, or other low-fat soft cheeses. I hope you enjoy your taste of Italy!
Ingredients Serves 4 appetizers or 8 samplers
4 1-cm slices of ciabatta bread (whole wheat preferred) (cut in half for sampler size)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 1/2cm slices of fresh mozzarella
1/4 ripe large peach, 4 thin slices
1 medium Roma tomato, 4 thin slices
1-2 teaspoons reduced balsamic glaze*
basil leaves (for garnish)
*Balsamic glaze can be found in specialty grocery stores or Italian markets. If you don’t want to spend extra money, buy regular balsamic vinegar and simmer about a 1/2 cup of vinegar on low heat for 10-20 minutes or until it coats the back of a spoon. Keep an eye on it and stir it occasionally.
1. Combine the olive oil and the garlic in a small bowl. Brush one side of the sliced bread with the oil mixture. Get a grill smoking hot. Reduce your balsamic vinegar ahead of time if you are making it from scratch.
|Garlic and olive oil mixture|
2. Grill the slices of ciabatta on the preheated grill, the oiled side in contact with the grill, quickly for 1 minute or less, or until a little charred. Set bread aside and slice cheese, tomato, and peaches.
3. Assemble the bruschetta by placing 1 slice of mozzarella cheese on the toast, then peach, and tomato. Drizzle with a little drops of balsamic glaze and top with a basil leaf. Serve right away and enjoy.
If you plan to make this recipe for a party, toast the oiled bread in the oven at 400 F or higher, for a couple of minutes. Have your slices of mozzarella, peaches, and tomatoes ready and assemble right before you serve. You will surely impress your guests with your Italian flair!