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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Lunch: Italian Bruschetta

I found this great Italian cookbook in the book exchange in the basement of my building. We have several bookshelves in the laundry room where you can leave and take books, and so far I've scored some awesome shit. The cookbook was covered in what looked like chicken stock, and after I cleaned it, I cracked it open, and it has some fabulous stuff in it. It is in this book that I learned what real bruschetta is. Bruschetta, contrary to popular belief is not a jar of oily tomatoes chopped "rustic style" and meant to be piled on crackers, tastelessly adding to your calorie count. Bruschetta is actually a piece of thick cut, well olive-oiled, garlic seasoned sourdough bread. Who knew?

I happened to have a beautiful, if slightly stale, loaf of organic sourdough already holding court in my kitchen. So I went to Urban Fare and Kin's Market to get the rest of the ingredients, to make this:

Asparagus and Prosciutto Bruschetta

Four slices of the best prosciutto you can afford
6 stalks asparagus
handful of arugula leaves
freepoured olive oil, the best you can afford
red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
2 thick sliced pieces sourdough bread

The traditional way is to dry grill the bread, then season with a piece of raw cut garlic, then drizzle with olive oil. I thought I would try a slightly different way: I chopped a clove of garlic fine, added it to my cast iron skillet, then covered it in olive oil. I turned the heat on medium high, then placed my two slices of bread in the middle, on the bed of garlic. When they were done, I drizzled the spots that weren't coated with a little more oil. Place two slices each of the prosciutto on the bread. Boil the asparagus in water briefly until just tender, drain, then toss with the washed arugula, more olive oil, and a splash of red wine vinegar. Toss together. Using tongs, place three spears each and some arugula on each piece of bread. Sprinkle with fresh black pepper and sea salt.

It should be noted here that Stella the feline garborator took approximately 2.3 seconds from the time I set the grocery bag down on the dining table to sniff out the package of prosciutto and do this to it:

That's what you want with your Saturday lunch. Cat drool. Thanks Stella, ya asshole.

One of the reasons the Greek and Italian diets are so lauded for their healthfulness is that they drown everything in the highest quality olive oil. I've heard that you should consume a tablespoon a day for optimum health. Granted I was starving when I consumed this (in about 3 minutes), but it was one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. And I've eaten at some of the best restaurants around. Oh my fuck was it good. I mean look at it:

I love that feeling when you make something delicious that you can also feel in your body is healthful. I felt nourished after this meal, energized. It would make a great lunch, or a single slice would make a great appetizer for a long Italian dinner. Seriously, make this. Make it. You won't regret it.  


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