Jay's California Bruschetta
Is anything more delicious than good bread? The Sicilian Bruschetta (pronounced "broo-SKET-uh") is, in my opinion, the best honor you can pay to a nice loaf of bread. It's often served as an appetizer, but the heartier versions, like this one, can easily be the main dish of a light meal.
(You really want to prepare for this Summer dish in the Spring, by planting tomatoes, sweet peppers, basil, parsley, and oregano).
Two loaves of excellent and fresh Italian or French bread.
4 or 5 ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 c. roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped
5 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Juice of 1 small lemon
7 or 8 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1Tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/3 c. virgin olive oil (extra virgin if you like)
3 Tbsp. sweet butter, softened
1/2 c. grated Parmigiano Reggiano (or other parmesan cheese)
1 small onion
Put the chopped and seeded tomatoes, in a non-metallic bowl. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and toss. Add the peppers, garlic, parsely, oregano, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper and toss the whole mixture, and let it sit for a few minutes.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the bread the long way and bake it face up on a baking sheet or aluminum foil for just a few minutes, watching carefully until it just begins to turn golden. Remove and spread butter lightly all over it. At this time it should be sliced diagonally for serving, into pieces about 1-1/2 inches wide, but don't go all the way through, you want the pieces to stay together while handling and cooking, but be easy to pull apart when served.
Spread the mixture out on the bread, piling on a thick layer. Sprinkle the top liberally with the cheese. Use the Reggiano if you can get it. It's expensive but is worth the premium.
Slice the onion thinly and cut some of the large rings in half, to create some half-circles. Coat them with olive oil and arrange them on top of the bread as a decorative garnish.
Put the loaves under the broiler and keep an eye on them as they broil. Continue until the edges of the bread begin to char and everything is nice and hot.