|Cucumber bruschetta. © Ryan Schierling|
When I was a younger man, inexperienced in the ways of life and love and the kitchen, I thought bruschetta was kind of an Italian salsa – a tomato, onion, basil and balsamic-based topping for toasted baguette rounds. I didn't know the garlic-rubbed toasted bread was actually the bruschetta, and it was my first experience with the glory that is balsamic vinegar. There wasn't Mario or Giada or Lidia or Mary Ann on teevee telling me what to do.
Proper terminology or not, I ham-fisted a lot of toasted bread topping with tomato and red onion, garlic and basil, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and it bolstered my confidence in the kitchen (and in life and love).
That might be a lot to ask of a bruschetta, but I think it's handled it well over the last 20 years, because I've been making adaptations on it ever since. Julie came up with this recipe. We went back and forth a bit, tasting multiple versions and then agreed that I am the crusty, chunky, slightly acerbic, and she is the cool, crunchy sweetness.
Together, somehow, we are a delicate, fresh spoonful on grilled sourdough baguette. Bon appetit.
1 sourdough baguette, cut into 1/2" rounds, oiled and grilled until toasty
4 cucumbers, peeled, center seeds removed, diced
2 scallions, minced
6-8 large basil leaves, chiffonaded
12-15 red cherry tomatoes, cut in half
cracked black pepper
cucumber bruschetta dressing (below)
Mix cucumber, scallions, dressing and a pinch of salt together. Plate bruschetta, spoon cucumber mix on top. Put half a cherry tomato on top of each slice of bruschetta with cucumbers, top with the chiffonade of basil and freshly cracked pepper.
Cucumber bruschetta dressing
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup cup oil (we used equal parts vegetable and olive oil… it seems to emulsify better)
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 small pinch kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon dijon mustard
Mix vinegar, honey, pepper, salt and mustard together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk in a steady stream of oil until emulsified.