Delicious Things on Toast (Bruschetta)

When summer produce is at its best it seems a shame to cook anything at all. At this time of year all I want to do is to eat something deeply satisfying with as little time as possible spent indoors fussing over a stove. Yet one can only eat so many salads before they become tedious, and sometimes there is nothing better than Bruschetta: a simple, low maintenance summer lunch or supper, perfect finger-food, to eat in the sunshine with plenty of oil dribbling down your chin.

The Toast

Bruschetta can be so much more than soggy bread with tomato mush on it: according to Marcella Hazan (the Mamma of Italian cooking), Bruschetta originated in ancient Rome, when olive oil growers would cart their olives to the local press, then toast bread over an open fire to sample their newly pressed oil. In Roman dialect bruscare means ‘to roast over coals’, and thus the toasting method is important: it imbues the toast with an extra smokey, nearly bitter flavour, which, sadly, is not replicated by a commercial toaster. However – it is not necessary to build a fire for this: you could put the toast on a small barbecue, or a charcoal grill over a gas hob. Once toasted/grilled, rub the toast with a cut clove of garlic, and sprinkle on some sea salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil: now it is ready for the toppings.  This recipe used 3 slices of bread (6 small toasts) to feed two.   

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Tomato Bruschetta 

5/6 ripe tomatoes

squeeze lemon juice

drizzle extra virgin olive oil

few leaves of basil,torn

pinch sea salt

black pepper

1 finely chopped clove garlic

Chop the tomatoes and the garlic, then leave the whole lot to marinate at room temperature for 20 mins or so. Pile on to your freshly toasted bread just before serving.

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Broad Bean Bruschetta

Handful broad beans, blanched in salted water for 1 minute

30g grated parmesan

sprig of mint

juice of half a lemon

drizzle of olive oil

1/4 clove garlic

salt and pepper

Crush the garlic and mint with a little salt in a pestle and mortar. Bash in the broad beans a few at a time, then the other ingredients, until you have a rough pulp. Serve on toast with extra olive oil drizzled over the top.

White Peach, Parma Ham, Mint and Mozzarella 

1 ripe peach

squeeze lemon

sprig of mint

3 slices of parma ham

1/2 ball of mozzarella

olive oil

salt

Slice the peach and marinate in a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of oil and a  tiny pinch of salt. Pile the ham onto the freshly made toast, then place the peaches, torn mozzarella and mint on top. Drizzle with extra oil and serve.

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Zucchini, Parmesan, Basil and Lemon 

1 small courgette (zucchini)

juice half a lemon

olive oil

sprig basil

sprig mint

salt and pepper

30g shaved parmesan

Matchstick the raw courgette along with a a small piece of lemon peel (all pith removed). Mix with the chopped herbs, lemon, oil, salt and pepper. Pile this on the toast, sprinkle with the parmesan shavings and serve.

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