Bruschetta is, after all, toast, a topic close to my heart. It is pretty common knowledge that many things from the simplest scraping- ripe tomato or garlic rubbed across the toasted bread, smashed chickpeas,etc., to all sort of sophisticated combinations, make lovely bruschetta. I intend to pass along a favorite wonderful, weird synergystic bruschetta recipe (not original to me). You need not, of course, bake your own ciabatta to make this, it will be fine on any good toasted bread. And it is very quick, and easy.
I do have a favorite ciabotta type bread which is excellent freshly baked, and turns into splendid, satisfying bruschetta when the first blush of its youth has passed. Recently , I made these Acme Herb Slabs for a superbowl party/lunch at work. (Yes, here in the 'burgh this was a citywide occasion to celebrate, pregame. In my office, serious homemade food of all sorts appears for every major festive event. This lunch party even had pork with sauerkraut and dumplings. Jealous?) My hope was that there would be a bit of the bread left over to take home and make bruscetta. There was.
The ciabatta-like recipe is from a favorite breadbaking source, the Maggie Glezer book, oft-cited here and appearing in the recipe link above. Ms. Glezer learned it from Steve Sullivan, of Acme Bread in Berkeley (and SF). The original contains rosemary, and is just dandy for most bruscetta pairings. If you want a whole lot of bruscetta, of different sorts, for a crowd, it would be a good idea to flavor some of your bread differently, depending on the topping intended. Toasted walnuts are great in this bread.
Slicing the slabs to make bruschetta, I was struck by how like the biscotti making process it is. You bake a big flat rectangle, slice it, and lay out and cook the slices some more, drying them out. A cross section of the flat bread, especially studded with walnuts, certainly resembles the italian cookie. It now occurs to me that this resemblance may well be of interest to absolutely no one but myself. At the time I first noticed it, however, I found it inexplicably delightful. What can I say? Digression is my middle name, and my brain must be wired for it.
In any event, this bruschetta is another nice find from Slow Mediterranean, a favorite Paula Wolfert book. I know it sounds odd, but it is especially delicious. PW says it is a traditional dish from the Canary Islands, as tweaked by Ferran Adria, the Catalonian chef famous for his really experimental stuff-like foams and what have you. You will definitely need some kind of mandoline or extra sharp slicer, as the avocado must be very thin. I use my el cheapo japanese mandoline to good effect. (n.b. I am driven to apologize for including so many names in this post-all of well known people who I know not at all. I live in fear of accidentally claiming as my own the endeavors of another. This sort of anxiety sometimes comes over otherwise normal individuals who have attended law school-the fear of failing to attribute, that is...the drive to apologize is my own from birth.)
For 4 to 6 as a starter-fewer for a lunch:
good olive oil 4 tbsps
chopped flat leaf parsley 2 tbsps
sherry vinegar 1 tbsp
S and P
4 1/2 oz cans of whole portuguese sardines in olive oil 2 cans
large avocago-ripe but not squishy
thin slices day old bread 6
scallions, white part only, chopped 4
Make a vinagrette with the oil, vinegar parsley, s and p. Slice the sardines and marinate in the vinagrette for at least an hour. Chill the avocado in the fridge while it marinates. Slice the avocado paper thin, removing skin and pit while slicing. Grill or broil the bread. Brush bread with vinagrette, and top ,each with 3-4 slices of the avocado. Drain sardines and put some on top. Scatter with chopped scallion, and eat right away. Did I mention that I love this?
P.S. GO STILLERS! , an'at.