East Meets West: Three Bruschettas Sans Egg but Avec Spicy Goodness

Good morning all,Today, I flipped to At Table section of The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins and found three recipes for bruschetta, little appetizers (or for me sometimes, whole meals) that are made on Italian loaf toasts with tomatoes and other ingredients from a variety of regions in Italy.  They are delicious but they generally pose a problem for the vaishno diet.  First, Italian bread often includes egg and the topping can include anchovies and cheeses that include rennin.

Also, to keep up with the challenge I set for myself to make every recipe in this book either a vaishno recipe or both a vaishno and a fusion recipe, I’m tackling these three recipes with an eye toward adding beautiful Indian flavours while keeping the essence of this lovely Italian treat.

The three original recipes are Clark Wolf’s Bruschetta, Alice Waters’ Bruschetta and Our Basic Bruschetta.  The fact that there are three bruschetta recipes in this one book should tell you that there are any number of ways to make a bruschetta and they will vary according to taste and available ingredients.

You’ll need the naan recipe for these dishes or you can purchase naan in most grocery stores nowadays.

Himmat’s Bruschetta

Reading the description of Clark Wolf’s Bruschetta, the writer say that the basic recipe may sound exotic.  I got a giggle out of this since ALL of the ingredients are available almost always at the grocery stores that serve our tiny sub-Arctic town.  ALL of them.  How exotic is that?  Awesome.  Mr. Wolf’s version is full of great flavours and lots of seasoning and is found on page 41 of the cookbook.  His use of a wide variety of flavours and our general aversion to parsley (yuck) inspired our version.

Ingredients
10 vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 large red (Spanish) onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 tbls finely chopped fresh chives
1 tbls finely chopped cilantro
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
3 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
8 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 tbls capers, drained and coarsely chopped
1 tsp hot chili sauce (we used Sriracha)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 naans, cut into six equal portions each
3 to 4 cloves of roasted garlic

Method

In a large bowl gently toss together the tomatoes, onion, slivered garlic, chives, cilantro, thyme, basil, olives, capers, chili sauce and cumin.  Drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the olive oil.  Season with some freshly ground black pepper and toss together gently.  Let the mixture rest while you make the garlic toasts.

Brown the naan pieces lightly on both sides under the broiler or on a grill.  Rub one side of each naan piece with a bit of the roasted garlic, then brush lightly with olive oil.  Place a heaping spoonful of the tomato mixture on each of the toasts and serve.

Tips:  We prefer to grind cumin seeds in a spice grinder rather than purchasing ground cumin.  First of all, it’s much easier on the pocketbook and second, more importantly, the flavour is much brighter and better this way.  I toast the cumin slightly in a dry pan before grinding.

We did not enjoy the sage together with the cumin so we left the sage (in the original recipe) out to make way for the rich, deep taste of the cumin.

You can use other varieties of olives but, as an olive lover I just think that Kalamata olives are one of the best.

Satinder’s Bruschetta

Alice Waters’ version of bruschetta on page 42 of the cookbook is simple but bright and wonderful.  I almost did not want to touch it (despite the challenge).  I remember thinking “simple but bright and wonderful, like my darling husband, Satinder” who enjoys the simplest things in life and brings so much joy and wonder to our lives.  These thoughts inspired this version of bruschetta, using basic ingredients from our salad plates at home and the beautiful hints of coriander, lime and chili.

Ingredients

2 or 3 plain naans, cut into six pieces each
extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, halved
1/4 tsp coriander seed, ground to a fine powder in a spice grinder
8 – 10 ripe hot house tomatoes, sliced in thin slices
1 tbls Red wine vinegar (see note in tips below)
Juice from 1/2 lime
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Basil leaves (we used lemon basil)
1 shallot, peeled and sliced thinly

Method

Grill or toast the naans until thqey are brown on both sides.  Rub the top of each toast with garlic and drizzle with olive oil.  Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top of the toasts.  Do the same with the basil, adding a few leaves to each toast.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and sprinkle over the toasts.  Serve immediately.

Tips: Red wine vinegar is fermented from a dilute red wine.  Most of the alcohol from the wine is consumed in the fermenting process and the end result contains very little, if any, alcohol and (unless you want to drink an entire bottle) and insufficient amount to qualify as an intoxicant any longer.

Fusion Bruschetta

The original version, on page 43 of the cookbook calls for a lot of raw garlic.  Yummy but we like the mellower flavour of roasted garlic.  We also like the brighter flavours of fennel, onion, lime and chilies.  I hope you enjoy our fusion version!

Ingredients

12 to 14 fresh, ripe plum tomatoes
2 tbls roasted garlic, crushed
2 tbls minced scallion
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1 tbls fresh chilies, chopped finely
1 tsp fennel seed, lightly crushed in a mortar
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 naan, cut into 6 pieces each

Method

Dice the tomatoes and place them in a bowl.  Toss with the crushed roasted garlic, fresh chilies, minced scallion and fennel seed.  Chop the basil coarsely and add these to the tomatoes, along with the lime juice, salt and pepper, and 1/3 cup olive oil.  Set aside.

Heat the remaining garlic oil in a small skillet.  Saute the slivered garlic until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.  Discard the garlic and reserve the oil.

Toast the naans and arrange the slices on plates.  Brush the garlic-flavoured oil over each slice, spoon the tomato mixture over the toasts and serve immediately.

That’s if for the bruschettas.  I hope you enjoy our versions and that you will be inspired to experiment with your own versions!  Let me know how the experiments go!

Until next time,
Peace & love,
Himmatpreet

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