Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bruschetta Pasta Bowls

So I love bruschetta. I mean, I love bruschetta a lot. The plan was to make a huge platter of it for dinner and just let everyone go nuts, but to my deep chagrin, I didn't have enough bread. I didn't have any fresh basil, either, and if you decide to make this recipe in your own home, please use fresh basil leaves if you possibly can. It will make a huge, huge difference. I reconciled myself to eating bruschetta with dried basil, but bread is an absolute necessity.

Something had to be done.

After looking in the pantry, cursing at the total lack of bread that could be used for bruschetta croutons, getting sidetracked by the mess in there and spending half an hour reorganizing, and being interrupted yet again by a beagle looking very cute and very much like she wanted to play fetch with her stuffed zebra-cow (long story), I finally got back to working on dinner. Tucked in the back of the freezer, I found 3 rather dense wheat rolls from a meal I made like a month ago...and that was all she wrote unless I wanted to break out the icky white sandwich bread my husband and daughter seem to love so much. Sigh. So here's how it all came together...and let me just tell you. Oh Em Jee. Yum.

Bruschetta Pasta
1/2lb. Pasta (we used penne, but you can use anything you like)
4C Grape Tomatoes, quartered
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large Shallot, diced
5 or 6 cloves Garlic, chopped
Basil, lots of it, use chopped fresh leaves if you possibly can
5-6 slices of baguette or equivalent amount of another sturdy bread
Salt and Italian seasoning to taste (I used a McCormick salt blend)

While your pasta is boiling, put about4T of olive oil in a skillet or griddle over medium high heat. Once the pan is very hot, Put the slices of bread down to toast. Let them sit for about 2 full minutes without moving them. Flip. Same thing on the other side. When you take them out of the pan, they should look something like the picture below (click on all the pictures in this post for the larger view...they're nice). In the same pan, lower the heat to medium and add another T or so of olive oil. Saute the shallot and garlic until the garlic softens and the shallots are translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and sprinkle in your herbs and salt. When your pasta is al dente, drain it over the sink and then pour the pasta into the skillet on top of your shallot and garlic mixture. Toss to coat in the oil and herbs from the pan. Cut your fried bread into nice, forkable croutons.

In a large serving bowl (or in the skillet if you prefer), add the tomatoes and croutons to your pasta. Toss lightly to distribute everything evenly. Serve in bowls along with a nice little side salad, and try not to die of happiness.

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