There’s lots of crunch and flavor in every bite of this twist on an Italian classic. I think that bruchetta is as much about texture as it is flavor. I used to make the mistake of simply toasting the bread. But it often resulted in a dry, crumbly foundation for the topping – most of which ended up on my shirt. Now I make the extra effort to fry the bread so the center stays soft (and my laundry bills stay low). I find it equally important to meticulously chop everything to approximately the same size so that each spoonful of the topping contains an equal share of all ingredients. And lastly, a pinch of kosher salt just before serving adds a little explosion of saltiness as it hits the tongue.
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive
1 Fresh French baguette – cut into 3/4-inch slices
6 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
2 small scallions (spring onions), finely chopped
4 tablespoons green olives, finely chopped
1/2 cup basil leaves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of vodka, or Basil Vodka (see The Vodka Cookbook, page 146)
1 tablespoon vermouth
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt, or course sea salt
2-3 garlic cloves
Sprigs of basil to garnish platter
- Warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over a moderate heat. Gently fry bread slices until golden on each side (but centers stay soft) and set aside.
- Combine and mix the rest of the oil with tomatoes, scallions, green olives, basil leaves, vodka, vermouth and black pepper in a large bowl, cover and set aside.
- When ready to serve, bruise the cloves of garlic (by giving them a whack with a rolling pin or flat side of a chef’s knife) and rub onto each toast. Discard garlic, add a spoonful of tomato mixture and a pinch of coarse salt to each toast, and lay onto a serving platter garnished with sprigs of basil.
For an extra kick, add 1-2 teaspoons of KGB Sauce (see The Vodka Cookbook, page 124), or hot red pepper sauce to tomato mixture.
Makes 20 to 24
From The Vodka Cookbook by John Rose