Friday, 6 January 2012

Olive & tomato bruschetta

Ciabatta loaf, 100g kamalata olives, basil oil, 200g baby plum tomatoes, honey. 
Preparation: 15 minutes

I love olives - they're so mouthwateringly rich and seductive and can add a fantastic umami quality to your cooking. This bruschetta is one of my favourite quick snacks. Got leftovers? Try tossing it with peas, mozzarella and linguine.

1) Pit your olives (I never recommend buying pre-pitted olives. They are either rubberized with brine or the flavour and texture has been compromised with oxidisation. Eat them off the stones and they will melt in your mouth) and discard the stones - if you don't have a pitter, you can slice them with a knife and squeeze until the pit pops out.

2) Slice the tomatoes in half and then scoop out the core and seeds. You don't need to be too precious about it, the odd seed won't matter but for this dish we need the concentrated flavour of the tomato (the flesh) and not have the texture and flavour diluted by the acidic juices. Discard the core and seeds.

3) Put the olives and tomatoes in a blender and pulse through. Taste and then add basil oil and honey to taste. The salty savoury flavour of the olives should be prevalent but the sweetness of the tomatoes and honey should also come through.

4) Slice the ciabatta and toast on one side (I like to brush with a very little basil oil and then press onto a hot, dry frying pan rather than grill as the bread will retain enough moisture to withstand the grilling that follows)

5) Spread the olive and tomato mixture onto the untoasted side of the bread and grill for 2-3 minutes. It's entirely up to you if you wish to add cheese to this - personally I like to add a few mozarella pearls to cut through the richness.

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