Saturday, 8 September 2012

Bruschetta... Only Betta!

Bruschetta con Pomodoro, Basilico, Pancetta e Ricotta
Bruschetta with Tomato, Bacon, Basil and Ricotta

Yes, yes, it IS only a snack, but still- everybody loves bruschetta! There's just something wonderful about having fresh, juicy tomatoes on crispy and crusty, toasted bread- especially if you give it a good amount of flavor and a base of fresh ricotta cheese like this- oh wow!

This may look particularly pretty here because of the multi-colored tomatoes, but even if you just use plain old ordinary red tomatoes, you are going to get the same great taste. One thing I do recommend when it comes to bruschetta, is to used cherry or cocktail tomatoes, as they simply have the best and most intense flavor... which is exactly what we all want to enjoy, right?

The secret weapon I used today, to make this simply snack just that little bit better, was, yes- you guessed it, read it and saw it... just a little bacon! Yep, bacon really does almost always make anything better! It didn't take much- just 1 rasher of breakfast bacon, to make a big difference to this. I snipped it up into little pieces and let them sizzle on my grill-pan until they were nicely browned, along with a slice or two of garlic- coating the pan of course in a little bacon fat as they did so. And it was this fat that gave the bread a nice, intense flavor. I used a ciabatta roll, cut in half for this, but you can use any kind of rustic bread that you like... just make sure to get it a little scorched and toasted! That's why they call it "bruschetta"!

For the tomatoes- simply chop them up small and pop them into a bowl- seeds and all. Add a teaspoon of tomato paste- this will help to bind any of the juices the tomatoes seep out. Add some finely chopped basil- although I prefer to snip it with scissors for this as I find the chopping makes them lose too much of their essential oils into the cutting board. Season with salt, pepper, a splash of green Tabasco, a splash of vinegar (whatever you have handy), a little honey, and a good pinch of dried oregano. Add a drizzle of olive oil and stir everything together well.

The fresh ricotta was simply seasoned with salt, pepper and a little olive oil and this went onto the bread first. Let the bread cool off completely before beginning, as any excessive warmth would make the ricotta curdle slightly. Spoon the tomatoes on top and add some fresh, dry basil... and those little crispy bits of bacon! The combination is terrific... and I KNOW you are going to love it! So enjoy!

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