Friday, May 17, 2013

Two Bruschetta for your Spring and Summer Outdoor Al Fresco Dining San Diego Style

For every drop of rain that falls in San Diego I think a thousand flowers grow. It is really something to catch this town in full bloom. Flower boxes everywhere and the yards. while small by Mid-Western standards, hold little pockets of color, spicing up an otherwise urban feel. California as I can see has foliage that most of the country would love to have around. The name the "golden state" refers to the hue the place gets after the green of spring slowly makes it way into the summer's less rainy and more dry conditions. But let me say I was there on the cusp of Spring and the blooms were coming out and the grass was bright green. It was lovely.

The other thing you notice as a visitor to San Diego is the outdoor life. Truly amazing in it's scope I think I never saw more people moving and walking and playing in the park and everywhere than in San Diego. The weather is awesome and the bugs are not bad. It's simply awesome.

One aspect of this outdoor living is dining outside or Al Fresco. It's a pleasure to sit in the dry cool evening air and partake of fresh foods with family or friends. I had the pleasure of doing just that a number of times while I was visiting.

My friend's house has a lovely backyard with a large dining table and chairs, seating area, fire pit and pool with a deck. And it's not a big yard, just well used space. In fact it seems that anyone in this San Diego neighborhood with a little imagination, elbow grease, and a penchant for buying things on Ebay or Craig's List, could actually create themselves a little bit of outdoor heaven. And from the look of the neighbor's homes many have. That all being said, I was just happy to be so well entertained!

One evening I was charged with preparing the dinner and while we were hungry we had all had a large lunch and did not feel the need for a large meal. So I came up with the idea of making bruschetta for dinner. Now this was a dinner I had first had in New York when a good friend invited me over and made "oven" bruschetta. Now I was used to the idea that bruschetta are served cold or at room temperature. This preparation turned the bruschetta into a sort of mini pizza. And who doesn't like pizza! So these little morsels with a big green salad made for a really delicious meal.

Now the only challenge for me was what to toppings to pick for the bruschetta. I came up with two which are Italian in nature but a little more Americano in execution. The first was a twist on plain ole artichoke topping. I zipped it up essentially turning it into Artichoke dip and topping it with that. The other was a play on the old classic tomato but mixed in sausage and diced red peppers and onions and sort of made it a play on a grinder. Baked in the oven they came out warm and delicious. I think they also could have been grilled if the grill had be on and summertime I will test that theory. In any event they are perfect for a backyard feast. Enjoy, Ya'll!

Backyard or Oven Bruschetta Two Ways

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and or light grill

For both bruschetta's you will need a loaf of french bread cut into 1/2 inch slices, then sprinkled liberally with olive oil and baked till just crisp not browned in the oven

Artichoke Bruschetta

1 can Artichoke hearts drained
1/4 cup Mayonaise
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl mash together till well combined not in a food processor
Top bread slices with mixture
Bake in oven or grill till heated through and slightly browned

Sausage and Peppers Bruschetta

2 Roma tomatoes seeded and diced into cubes
1 small red bell pepper seeded and diced into cubes
2 links italian cooked sausage cubed
1/2 smal red onion diced
6 basil leaves cut into chiffonade
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 slices of provolone cut into quarters

Place all ingredients except  parm and ricotta and provolone in a small bowl and mix till combined
mix parm and ricotta
Top  bread lightly with the ricotta mixture then topping mixture
Top with the provolone pieces
Bake in a 350 degree oven or grill till heated through and the cheese is really melted


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