A brush with bruschetta

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Dan Bolyard/courtesy photo My family thought the parmesan bruschetta was so very tasty I nearly forgot to snap a photo before the topping was gone.

An easy meal around here is some form of bruschetta. The easiest version is to cut up some artisan-style bread into bite-sized pieces, gently toast them in a hot oven and top with a garlic-infused butter, some form of tomato or tomato based sauce, a thin slice of mozzarella and a fresh bit of basil. I have a thriving basil plant in a warm spot in the house over the winter just to have the fresh herb available for this. You could also make up a bowl of the topping ingredients lightly tossed together and scoop out a bit at a time for self-serve cracker toppings.

You can use nearly any kind of bread for these. Most recipes call for baguettes. You could use name-brand crackers or corn chips too.

PARMESAN BRUSCHETTA

24 ounces of cream cheese

1 cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 cups shredded Fontina cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded Asiago cheese

1/2 cup finely chopped green onion

Garlic salt to taste

Paprika to taste

Cayenne pepper to taste

6 teaspoons lemon juice

In a saucepan over low heat, combine the cheeses and mayonnaise. Stir often until the cheeses soften and come together. Stir in the onion and seasonings. Adjust as needed. Finish with the lemon juice to brighten up the flavor. Remove from heat and serve warm.

TOMATO BRUSCHETTA

5 roma tomatoes, chopped

1/3 cups sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup fresh basil, stems removed

Pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper

1 baguette

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven on broiler setting. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes. Cut the baguette into 3/4-inch slices. On a baking sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, until slightly brown. Divide the tomato mixture evenly over the baguette slices. Top the slices with mozzarella cheese. Broil for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

APPLE BRUSCHETTA

1 apple, peeled, cored, sliced into thin wedges

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 baguette

Olive oil

4 very thin slices prosciutto ham

Fresh sage, for garnish

In large nonstick pan over medium heat, warm oil and sauté apples 3 minutes or until al dente. Add vinegar and cook 3 minutes or until most of the vinegar is evaporated. Add honey and increase heat to high. When honey bubbles, stir gently for 1 minute until apples are soft. Allow apples to cool in honey syrup. With a slotted spoon remove apples; discard syrup. Cut the baguette into 3/4-inch slices. On a baking sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer. Brush lightly both sides of bread with olive oil. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, until slightly brown.; Remove and arrange on serving platter. Immediately before serving, cut each prosciutto slice into 2 x 1 inch strips. Place one slice of prosciutto on each toast; top with two apple slices. Garnish with fresh sage.

PEACHY BRUSCHETTA

1 pound ripe red tomatoes, diced

1 cup diced peaches

1/2 cup finely diced red onion

16 large basil leaves, shredded

4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

5 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 large round loaf country bread

Mix tomatoes, peaches, onion, basil, vinegar, and 2 1/2 tablespoons of oil together with salt and pepper in a large bowl. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature while you prepare the bruschettas: Mix the remaining oil and the garlic in a small bowl and cut the bread into long 1/2 inch thick slices. Brush the slices with the garlic oil, then place them under the broiler, on the grill, or in the toaster oven until they become golden brown. Cut each slice in half, place on a plate, and top with generous spoonfuls of the tomato-peach mixture. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

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