Asparagus Bruschetta - aka Asparagus Toast

Asparagus Toast or Bruschetta - the new big foodie thing!
Mark my words as I'm making a prediction here - Asparagus Toast will be the next big foodie thing.  I saw this on a menu of a local coffee shop and knew I had to make a version of my own.  With a few tweaks and all locally bought New Jersey items, this is a totally South Jersey fresh meal. Except for one item, everything was purchased from the Collingswood Farmers' Market.  Asparagus from Viereck Farms; hot house Jersey grown tomato from Springdale Farms; fresh bread from Wild Flour Bakery; Home-made Ricotta cheese from Hillacres Pride; basil from my garden; Eureka Lemon-infused olive oil from our very own olive oil and balsamic vinegar store, Blue Moon.  It doesn't' get any better or more local than this.

This isn't so much a recipe as it is an assembly of sorts.  The only cooking that needs to be done is roasting or grilling the asparagus, and grilling or toasting the bread.  Then you layer the items together, top it with basil, drizzle with olive oil and season with flaky or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.  It will make a wonderful Memorial Day horsd'oeuvres, or as part of a meal with a great big hearty salad.  That's actually how I enjoyed this - I was too tired to cook so I made it for dinner with a salad.  
As easy to make as the photos show and it's all locally sourced and purchased!

Asparagus Bruschetta/Toast Ingredients:

  • 1 Loaf French or Crusty Bread - cut into 4-inch long slices, and cut in half
  • 1 Bunch Asparagus - cleaned and woody stem ends removed - look for thicker spears
  • 1/4 - 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Lemon -infused Olive Oil (best quality oil)
  • 4 ounces Home-Made Ricotta
  • 2 Jersey or Plum Tomatoes - cut into slices
  • 1/2 Bunch Basil - washed and leaves kept whole
  • Coarse Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to season
Directions:
  1. Preheat a grill or grill pan or preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cut the loaf of bread into 4-5 inch pieces and cut the pieces in half. 
  3. Clean the asparagus and cut or snap away the wood stem ends.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the asparagus and grill or roast until the asparagus spears are bright green and are knife tender.  Set aside to cool.
  4. Drizzle olive oil over each bread slice then grill or toast the bread until the slices are golden brown or a bit charred.
  5. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch thick rounds.
  6. Assemble the bruschetta: Spread a layer of ricotta cheese onto the grilled bread, then lay asparagus piece onto the bread. If the spears are too long, cut them to fit onto the bread so they don't hang over.  If the spears are too thick, cut in half lengthwise. 
  7. Top the asparagus with a slice of tomato and then garnish with several basil leaves.  Drizzle with the lemon-infused olive oil (if using) or extra virgin olive oil.  Season with coarse salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  If you can use it, a flaky sea salt or salt that you grind is best - the taste makes a world of difference verses using ordinary table salt, kosher salt or plain sea salt. 
Edit Note: I attempted to upload a video that I made of all the photos taken for this post, but for whatever weird reason, I cannot get the video to upload to view.  Head on over to my facebook page, Facebook.com/TheBicycleChef to see it! It's clever and has a fun song to go with the images. 

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