- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why not bananas?

Admittedly, they are an unusual choice for bruschetta. But as I stared down a heap of soon-to-be-brown bananas and considered their sometimes savory uses elsewhere in the world, I couldn’t think of a good reason not to try them on a simple summer bruschetta.

Like potatoes, bananas are starchy, meaning they do a nice job of absorbing other flavors. The difference is the sugar content. But making that work in a savory dish is just a matter of balance. Add some heat, some salt, some acid and it should be good to go.

So that was where I started. I gave some banana slices a quick splash of lime juice and olive oil, followed by a sprinkle of kosher salt and cayenne. I then set that over some arugula on a slice of sourdough. A final topping of shredded manchego and my so-very-not-Italian bruschetta was ready for the oven.

The result? Oddly, unexpectedly good. Seriously. I’ve also included my favorite tomato bruschetta, which is made more delicious than normal thanks to a pat of butter added at the end.

BANANA-MANCHEGO BRUSCHETTA

1 large ripe banana, peeled

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 slices sourdough bread

1 cup arugula

Pinch cayenne

Pinch kosher salt

½ cup grated manchego cheese

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Slice the banana in half crosswise, then slice each piece in half lengthwise for a total of 4 pieces. Place the banana slices in a small bowl, then drizzle with the lime juice and olive oil. Gently toss the bananas to coat, then set aside.

Top each slice of bread with half of the arugula, then place 2 bananas slices over each. Sprinkle each with a bit of cayenne and salt, then half of the cheese. Toast for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Serve immediately. Serves two.

BUTTERY ROASTED-TOMATO BRUSCHETTA

4 plum tomatoes

Olive oil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 large slices sourdough bread

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

3 tablespoons butter, cut into very small pieces

Heat the oven to 500 degrees. Cut each tomato in half top to bottom. Use your fingers to scoop out and discard the pulpy-watery centers, then place the tomatoes in a medium bowl. Drizzle the tomatoes with about 2 tablespoons of oil, then toss to coat.

Arrange the tomatoes on a baking sheet, then season liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, drizzle the bread with a bit of olive oil, then sprinkle half of the rosemary over each. During the final 5 minutes the tomatoes are roasting, add the bread to the oven.

Remove the bread and tomatoes from the oven. Use a spoon to arrange 4 tomato halves over each slice of bread. Sprinkle half of the butter pieces over each, then return the bruschetta to the oven for 1 minute. Serves two.

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