Thursday, June 26, 2008


Sometimes, rarely (okay, almost never, but still...), I feel that by blogging I am, in some small, personal way, helping the world to be better place.  That I am "giving back" or "paying it forward."  Uh-huh.  Well, today is one of those days.

Here is a simple, beautiful recipe for making a wonderful culinary treat. I call it “Bruschetta for Two.”

2 large slices of Italian or artisan bread
A few leaves of fresh spinach
1 -2 tomatoes, preferably Roma, depending on size 
Genoa Salami,
Mozzarella cheese
Whole olives
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt, ground black pepper
Ground or freshly chopped oregano and/or basil leaves to taste.

First, gently toast one side of the bread in your broiler. I prefer the Pane Turano from Turano Bakery, personally, but any robust, high quality artisan bread should work. I recommend using a pizza stone, if you have one. While the bread is toasting, clean, dry, and trim a few leaves of fresh spinach. Be quick about it, though, or the bread will burn.

Take the bread out, but leave the broiler on. Flip both slices over so that the toasted side is down. Very lightly drizzle or brush a little olive oil on the untoasted side.

Slice the tomatoes as thin as possible, trim out any pithy parts.

Slice the 6-8 pieces of mozzarella, also thin, about 1/4”.

Slice the salami at the same thickness, then dice it. Genoa salami has this quirky, concentrated flavor that is really tasty. And it cooks very nicely.

Yum. REAL olives...not the tasteless, mealy little funky things they call "Spanish olives." I hated olives when I was a kid. Now I love them. It's good to be a grown-up.

Pit and slice the olives, testing two or three as you go to be sure they are as good as they look (oh, yeah).

Now you are ready to assemble your masterpiece:

Place the spinach leaves on the bread, followed by the tomato slices. Next come the olives (on mine, not on the wife’s) and then the diced salami. Now a dash of sea salt and a bit of freshly ground pepper (not shown, sorry).

Finally, top with the mozzarella slices.

Place them back in the hot oven, on the bottom shelf. Let it stay in there for 5 minutes or so, checking on it occasionally. It is done whenever you say it is, but I like for the mozz to be fully melted and just starting to bubble and brown.

And it will come out looking like this!

Remove from the oven and immediately place on serving plates. Drizzle liberally with olive oil and sprinkle a little of the oregano or basil on top.

And serve. 

At our house, we eat this two or three times a week. It is a very flexible, improvisatory dish that is different and delicious every time. You can add or substitute many ingredients with great results, such as artichoke hearts, lettuce, fresh or roasted bell peppers, garlic in any form, arugula (if you can find it), pesto, tomato sauce, onions chopped or stripped, pickled Italian veggies, smoked  salmon, anchovies, prosciutto(!), diced red cabbage, parmesan or romano cheese, roasted asparagus tips, zucchini, mushrooms, etc. 

I have been known to sprinkle on a little of the pre-mixed Alexander's Bread Dip Seasoning at the end, and it works great.  

You can even add a fried egg on top, serve it around 11:00 AM some lazy, overcast Saturday morning, and call it “Brunchetta for Two.”  Ouch.

This is a really fast, easy, and good recipe.  To insure success every time, just be sure to use fresh ingredients where possible, good bread, and the best olive oil that you can afford. Also, part of what seems to make this work so well every time is that no single ingredient is allowed to overpower another. It is the combination of the subtle savory flavors, harmonized by the olive oil and toasted bread that makes it so delicious.

The good stuff.


IzzyBeth said...

This looks awesome. And also - one of my favorite posts from you!! Why?

2. Pithy - isn't that such a fun word???


NP said...

Truly . . . one of the best tastes around.

Heidi said...

Great... I drooled on my keyboard! ;-)

DaveG said...

I'm sold! It has to be better than the from-scratch pizza I made yesterday... you could get a better crust from Dominos.

Barry Pike said...

If you guys make this, please let me know how it works out for you :-)