Saturday, April 16, 2011

friday night food

friday dinner is always a very relaxed affair at our house, often consumed a bit late in front of friday evening television. after the efforts of the week, friday calls for something easy and relaxed, but also something a bit nibbly and tasty and suited towards stretching it out a bit, grazing over dinner, if you will. i often make something that we can spread out on the coffee table in the living room and everyone can nibble and pick at it, rather than sitting down to a proper dinner. often, it's some nice hard sausage, several kinds of cheese, olives, oven-dried tomatoes, smoked almonds or salty pistachios and a loaf of good bread. whatever else we have, friday evening always revolves around a good loaf of bread - whether homemade or a long baguette or two purchased from the bakery at the grocery store. luckily, we live in a place with a good bread culture, as a loaf of ordinary sliced bread just won't do.

clockwise from 12 - creamy eggplant, classic tomato, portabello, roasted pepper
yesterday evening, i lazily stirred up four different toppings for bread - none of which involved meat. and they were each so tasty on their own, that we didn't miss the meat at all. i had to have two rounds of each one before i could decide which one i liked best. the base of each is a slice of good bread, dipped in olive oil on one side, with just a strafing of grated cheese on top and toasted 'til golden brown in the oven.

creamy eggplant
creamy eggplant bruschetta

1 eggplant, diced, salted, allowed to drain in a colander, rinsed, then browned in a pan
1 small onion, diced - sweat off the onion while the eggplant is draining
5-6 springs of fresh thyme
1/2 C of cream
1 tsp. of chili flakes for kick (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

dice your onion and sweat it off in the pan with a bit of olive oil. dice the eggplant, salt it and leave it in the sink in a colander to drain off the bitterness that eggplants can have. rinse and add it to the onion, tossing it around 'til it's a bit browned. season with chili, salt & pepper and add the thyme and the cream. allow it to simmer until it's a thick, creamy sauce. 

classic bruschetta - tomato, garlic, oregano
tomato bruschetta

4 roma tomatoes, diced
handful of fresh oregano, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced.
olive oil
salt & pepper

dice your tomatoes and place them in a bowl, mix with chopped oregano and garlic, salt & pepper to taste and drizzle over a bit of olive oil. for a bit of extra bite, add a dash of balsamic vinegar.

portabello bruschetta

4 medium portabello mushrooms, diced
4-5 springs of thyme
olive oil
salt & pepper

warm olive oil and a bit of butter in a pan and then add the roughly diced portabellos. sauté them until they are soft and don't look at all raw, add the thyme, salt & pepper. this is sublimely simple and tastes sublime. a bit of garlic wouldn't be wrong, but since i had garlic in a couple of the other toppings, i left it out. 

roasted red pepper
roasted red pepper bruschetta

2 red peppers, sliced in half, seeds and stalk removed
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
olive oil
white wine
at least 8 springs of thyme
salt & pepper

prepare a baking dish with a bit of olive oil in the bottom, lay in the red peppers, throw 2 cloves of garlic and a bit of thyme in each one, put in a bit of olive oil into the bowl of the pepper itself. a glug of white wine in the bottom of the pan to prevent the peppers from drying out. stick it in the oven at 180°C/350°F for 20-30 minutes, until nicely roasted. remove and slice into strips.

i put the toppings into each their own little rectangular dish, gave them a last bit of heating in the oven, with the bread while it finished toasting. pop the bread into a basket, pour a couple of glasses of wine and you have a bruschetta feast for 2-3, maybe even 4. and seriously, don't worry about the cream in the eggplant - you do need some fat in your diet and so it may as well come in small, good-tasting elements that involve quality ingredients. 

and as for which was my i was eating each one, i thought "this is it." but in the end, i actually think that the red pepper was my favorite. which actually surprised me a little bit. roasting a red pepper just makes it sweet and wonderful. but the creamy eggplant was a close second. the only one there was something left of was the tomato, the rest of it was all eaten, down to wiping down the bowls with the last of the bread. yummy.


Char said...

i adore roasted red pepper. especially with a bit of olive oil and basil

Bee said...

I like your alternative to meat and two veg! I'm sitting here thinking about what I'm going to serve Simon's clan on Saturday and I think that I will do some combination of these for "starters." I wish that we had a better source for bread, though. There isn't a decent bakery anywhere near us.


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