Among the many treats Central Italian traditional cuisine offers, bruschetta (contrary to general usage in the US, the proper pronunciation is “Bruce Ketta”) is one of the simplest and most evocative of a living countryside.
Bruschetta comes from “bruscare”, which in Roman dialect means to roast over coals. The base of the dish (which the Tuscans call fettunta) is a slice of rustic white bread, toasted, rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil. When you add a topping you make a bruschetta: prosciutto bruschetta, truffle bruschetta, bell pepper bruschetta, etc.
The first step for a great bruschetta is to understand the bread in relation to the olive oil, which is the soul of it. If you toast the bread too much it won’t hold the oil well. Toast the surface just enough to rub the garlic on it, leaving the interior spongy enough to gently absorb the oil.
Very minimal ingredients are required: thus, they have to be good.
In our Sierras, we are blessed with wonderful tomatoes (they smell like tomatoes! –something unusual these days) of different varieties, all organic. We are also blessed with great wild mushrooms growing in the moist forests close to Highway 49 (precise locations are a well-guarded secret).
If you can’t source your food quite so directly, look for the freshest heirloom tomatoes, and any wild mushrooms you can find: portabella, porcini, cremini or oysters.
What is indispensable is a good, enhancing olive oil that is going to bring all these flavors out without interfering too much with what the ingredients have to offer, especially in the case of mushrooms. The Apollo Mistral is truly a perfect one for that.
4 slices of white rustic bread (about 6 inches across and one inch thick)
2 garlic cloves
1/2 pound mushrooms
one of these herbs: parsley, basil, fresh thyme, fresh oregano
Apollo Mistral olive oil
Cut the mushrooms in small pieces and saute them. Once done, place them in a bowl.
Chop the tomatoes and add to the mushrooms.
Let it rest 2 minutes
Toast or roast the bread (remember to leave the middle spongy) and rub it with the garlic cloves.
Place the tomatoes and mushroom on top.
Top it with a chopped herb.
Add a touch of salt and fresh pepper and drizzle with the olive oil.