When guests come over for dinner, I usually like to give them something to nibble on while I am finishing up in the kitchen. Bruschetta is my preferred MO. First of all, bruschetta is always more impressive than a big bowl of olives — even very, very nice olives. Second of all, you can set up basically everything ahead of time, and assemble the toasts right before your guests breeze through the door.
Bruschetta is technically defined as any kind of grilled bread — brushed with olive oil and rubbed with garlic — with some kind of topping. In the flip-floppy way that we do things here, bruschetta has come to refer to the topping rather than the bread.
One demi-baguette or small ciabatta loaf, cut into 1/2-inch slices
About one pound of shitake mushrooms, sliced
About 2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus one tablespoon
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced, plus one clove of garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons of fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
The juice of one small lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
How to prepare:
1. In a large cast-iron pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until the oil just begins to smoke. Add the mushrooms. Toss the mushrooms in the hot oil and spread them out evenly over the bottom of the pan. Cook them, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes. As the mushrooms cook, they will release a fair amount of water. Don’t worry, the water will evaporate as the mushrooms start to become golden.
2. When the mushrooms begin to brown, add the finely minced garlic to the pan. You want to make sure the garlic is evenly distributed throughout the mushrooms, but you don’t want it to burn. Cook the garlic and mushrooms together for about a minute.
3. Transfer the cooked mushrooms to a separate mixing bowl. Add the parsley and the lemon juice. Stir everything together to combine. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Brush the bread slices with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and toast them until they are golden brown. Rub the slices with the smashed garlic clove before topping each one with a heaping spoonful of the mushroom mixture. Arrange the bruschetta on a plate and serve.