Creative Cooking

Bruschetta: More Than Just Tomatoes and Basil

The beauty of Italian cooking is the simple flavors. One of my favorite Italian dishes is an antipasto, bruschetta. Every restaurant in Italy serves bruschetta with classic tomato, basil and olive oil on top.

But there are endless varieties of bruschetta. Here are five recipes that you can easily make for a summer party, an Italian dinner night or just because you want to.

5. Guacamole Bruschetta

You find avocado everywhere nowadays. America has definitely taken this fruit (yes, it is a fruit, not a vegetable) by storm. Mix it with pico de gallo, cumin, salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and you have just made guacamole. Rather than serving it on chips, pile it high on pieces of toasted French bread. The creamy guacamole soaks into the crusty bread, making each bite full of flavor.

4. Barbecue Chicken and Blue Cheese Bruschetta

It's summertime, and that means barbecuing meat is in season, especially in Texas. To change things up a bit, cut chicken into bite-size pieces and mix with your favorite barbecue sauce. To make the barbecue chicken caramelize a little bit, place the chicken on a baking sheet and broil for a few minutes. Add more creaminess to the bruschetta by placing a spoonful of blue cheese on the bread before topping with barbecue chicken. The warm chicken melts the cheese. It's tangy, sweet and perfect for the summer.

3. Pear, Cream Cheese and Walnut Bruschetta

A few years ago, I made a sandwich with cream cheese, pears and walnuts, and I remembered how wonderful these three flavors were together. The naturally sweet and crisp pears enhance the subtle flavor of the cream cheese, while the walnuts add a soft crunch. Each ingredient has a different texture, and when placed on top of crunchy bread, the blend of crunchy, soft and crisp creates a party in your mouth.

2. Scrambled Egg, Pancetta, Mozzarella and Arugula Bruschetta

For a wonderful dish to serve at a brunch, combine scrambled eggs with crispy pancetta, mozzarella and arugula. Upgrade from bacon to pancetta to give this all-in-one breakfast bruschetta a sophisticated touch. Place the pancetta on the bread first, then add mozzarella, arugula and finish with warm scrambled eggs to melt the mozzarella cheese. Salty pancetta, savory eggs and creamy mozzarella make this the perfect morning bite.

1. Figs, Prosciutto, Goat Cheese and a Balsamic Reduction Bruschetta

I absolutely love the combination of figs, goat cheese, prosciutto and balsamic vinegar. Each ingredient increases the flavor of the others, and they all work perfectly together. You also won't have to pay $19 for a plate of these figs. Goat cheese already has a natural sweetness to it, which pairs well with the sweet figs and syrupy balsamic vinegar. Reduce the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan until it becomes like syrup. Then, place a slice of goat cheese on toast, top with rolled prosciutto and a fig slice, and drizzle the balsamic reduction. Not only is this bruschetta beautiful to look at, it is a delicious combination.

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Molly Dunn
Contact: Molly Dunn