Bruschetta can so easily go wrong. Sometimes it's soggy and flavorless (particularly if tomatoes are not in season). Other times, the large bits of topping fall off easily, making the bruschetta hard to eat, particularly when you don't have plates.
These bruschetta solve those problems.
They've got a base of pureed artichoke hearts, basil, lemon juice and garlic. It's thick enough to anchor firmly onto the bread, and the mixture stays together so the bread doesn't get soggy. A piece of shaved parmesan cheese on top and a sprinkle of black pepper seal the deal.
They also provide a great way for those earlier-to-arrive guests to help out in the kitchen. Prepare the artichoke puree and the strips of parmesan cheese in advance and refrigerate them. Throw the bread under the broiler a few minutes before the guests are due. Those first brave kitchen volunteers (or recruits!) can spread the artichoke mixture over the toasts and top them with pieces of parmesan. The bruschetta get made, and you get to snack on them along the way!
Bruschetta with Artichoke Hearts and Parmesan
recipe from Cook's Illustrated Magazine, September & October 2010
This recipe serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer. The artichoke puree can easily be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator until needed.
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
2 medium garlic cloves, 1 minced or pressed, 1 halved for rubbing on bread
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons finely shredded fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 ounces parmesan cheese, 1 ounce finely grated (about 1/2 cup), 1 ounce shaved into strips with vegetable peeler
1 loaf crusty bread (I used a wider baguette)
Prepare Artichoke Puree: Pulse artichoke hearts, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in the food processor until a coarse puree forms (about six 1-second pulses), scrapping down the bowl with a rubber spatula once during processing.
Add grated parmesan and pulse to combine, about two 1-second pulses.
Prepare Bread: Adjust the oven rack so it is about 4 inches from the broiler. Slice a loaf of bread crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick pieces and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil the bread until it is deep golden, 1-2 minutes. Watch the bread closely while it is baking. It goes from perfect to overdone very, very quickly. Flip the bread and repeat on the second side. Remove bread from the oven, and lightly rub 1 side of each slice with 1/2 clove of garlic. Brush with extra-virgin olive oil. Season to taste with salt.
Top Bruschetta: Divide the artichoke mixture among toasts and spread to edges. Top with shaved parmesan. Sprinkle with black taste, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.