Bad-Ass Bruschetta…

Oh yes, I did just say that.  And I mean “Bad-Ass” as in “kick-in-the…”  Hey, I AM the Punky Chef, after all.  And when you taste this version of a classic appetizer, you’ll understand WHY!  Witness: Bad-Ass Bruschetta.

Get ready for a kick in the pants, people.

Get ready for a kick in the pants, people.

Yes, this ain’t ‘cher madre’s bruschetta.  This is Bruschetta with a KICK, thanks to pepper and fresh chopped garlic.  We’ve also got some other special treats like shaved Parmesan and fresh julienned basil.  You can get almost everything for this delish dish from your local Farmer’s Market, and the whole thing takes like 20 minutes, so saddle-up my punky friends!  And don’t forget your padding.  Come with me…

Serves: many

Big knife
Baking pan/sheet pan
Vegetable peeler
Bread knife
Basting brush (optional)

1 French baguette
2 red plum (Roma) tomatoes
1 orange vine-ripe tomato
3 medium garlic cloves
5 leaves fresh basil
Parmesan wedge
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt

Ready?  This one’s so easy,
Ina Garten would even be proud.  And basically we’re just assembling the thing and then baking it at 350º for 10-15 minutes.

Chop the three tomatoes and the garlic and place them in a bowl.  (See the TIPS section for garlic choppage help.)  Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper, then mix it all up with your hands.

GOOEY!  FUN!  And just leave that for now.  We’ll be back.

Time to preheat the oven – turn it on to 350º.

Now take your bread knife and slice the baguette, making pieces about an inch thick.  It looks extra fancy if you slice them on a diagonal.  They’ll be like, “Where you get this fanciness, Ms. Thang?”  (Or Mr. Thang, of course.)  And you’ll be like, “Aw, shucks.  It just comes naturally, dawg.”

Place the bread pieces out flat on the baking sheet/pan, and drizzle olive oil over them, “painting” it on (i.e. spreading it around) with your basting brush if you have one.  (You can also just rub them around upside-down on the bottom of the pan which spreads the love pretty well, too.)

Drizzle as little balsamic vinegar as you can – and I say this because balsamic always comes FLYING out of the bottle, no matter how slowly and carefully I pour it.  I even stuck my thumb over the opening this last time, just like Ina, and it helped, but the dribble was still large and inconsistent.  Point is, try NOT to soak your bread in it, first of all because that’s soggy, and secondly because balsamic is SUCH a strong taste, it’ll overpower everything.  We want wiiittle, itty, teensy dots.  And we won’t get them, but oh well.  It’s good to dream, eh?

Everything moderation, in.  That’s Yoda talking.

(It’s a scary place inside my head.)

Anyway, now that you’ve drizzled, painted and dribbled, time to add your tomato mixture.  BUT!  You’ll notice a ton of liquid in the bottom of your tomato bowl and that will sog everything up if not contained.  SO, pour the tomato and garlic mixture into your strainer and shmushle it (say it out loud – makes more sense) with your hands to get the extra liquid out.  (Do this over the sink of course.  Unless you want to cry yourself a river on your countertop!)

Spoon out the tomato mixture as evenly as you can onto the pieces of bread.  Salt and pepper a bit more (and fresh ground pepper is best, I must say), and then take your vegetable peeler and shave pieces of Parmesan off the wedge – trying to drop one on each piece of bread.

Now you’re ready for ze bakingk, yah?  Place the pan in the oven for 10-15 minutes, keeping an eye on it so the bread doesn’t burn.  While it’s in there, take your 5 leaves of fresh basil, roll them up as tightly as you can, and chop little strips with your big knife.  This is called “julienned” basil, although the verb form I am less certain of.  “Julienneing?”  “Julienning?”  Neither of those looks right.  Best to stick to the adjective version.

Keep checking your oven, and when the shavings of Parm are wilted and the bread slightly browned around the edges, pull it out.  Sprinkle the newly julienned basil (see?  aren’t you SO fancy?) over the tops, and… and… AND…




The colorful tomatoes and bright green basil are a party for your eyes, while the edge of the pepper and garlic mixed with the sharp cheese, the aromatic basil, the acidic vinegar and the sweet, juicy tomatoes will delight your tongue, and of course the crunch of the bread and the smoothness of the Parmesan will delight your teeth!  (Whaa?)  Just go with me on this one.  AND I got almost all of this stuff at my farmer’s market – the tomatoes, the basil, the bread, the garlic – the possibilities are endless!  So watch out behind you, because this Bad-Ass Bruschetta is takin’ no prisoners…


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