To make bruschetta, prepare Rustic Garlic Toasts and top each toast with up to 1/4 cup of Roasted Wild Mushrooms.
There are several methods of toasting the bread, depending on how many people you are serving and whether or not you want to heat up the oven. Brush the olive oil onto the bread rather than drizzling it on, a method that leaves flavor without excess. You could also use a flavored oil, such as rosemary oil, or melted butter.
Mushrooms pose a real dilemma in healthy cooking. Because they are so porous, they soak up fat like a sponge when sauteed in the traditional manner. This technique, roasting mushrooms with a little bit of oil and wine until they become tender with a slightly browned exterior, duplicates the delicious effects of sauteing with a minimum of fat and effort. These can be used in all recipes that call for sauteed mushrooms. Or, to serve them as is, toss with minced garlic and parsley a la Provencal.
Rustic Garlic Toasts
Roasted Wild Mushrooms
For the toasts:
Oven Method: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and, using a slightly dampened brush, brush both sides with the olive oil. Toast the bread in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until browned. Rub each slice lightly with the garlic and sprinkle the salt on top.
Stove-top method: Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until very hot. Using a slightly dampened brush, brush both sides of the bread slices with the olive oil. Arrange the bread in the pan and toast until the bottom side is golden, about 2 minutes. (Press the slices down if necessary with a metal spatula to brown the bottoms evenly.) Turn the bread over and toast the other side. Brush both sides of each toast lightly with the garlic and sprinkle with the salt.
Pan-grilled bread: This simple variation of the stove-top method re-creates the flavor, texture, and satisfaction of bread grilled over a wood fire. When the pan is hot, sprinkle a scant 1 tablespoon smoking chips or place a 1-inch piece of grapevine in the bottom. Place a round, footed rack in the skillet. When the chips or grapevine begins to smoke, arrange the oil-brushed bread on the rack, cover, and toast for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden. Brush the toasts with the garlic and sprinkle with the salt.
For the mushrooms:
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Brush any dirt from the mushrooms with a soft brush or damp paper towel. Trim off the ends of the stems and discard. Cut the mushrooms lengthwise into halves, quarters, or eighths to make bite-sized pieces that will still retain some of the shape of the mushroom.
In a shallow casserole, combine the mushrooms, onion, garlic, juniper berries, and thyme. In a small bowl, combine the white wine with 2 teaspoons of the oil and the grappa, if using, and pour it over the mushrooms as you toss to coat them. Sprinkle with the salt and toss again.
Cover the mushrooms with foil and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until they are tender and the juices are just beginning to caramelize in the bottom of the pan. (If there is still some liquid in the pan, uncover and roast the mushrooms until the liquid has evaporated. Continue to roast until they are beginning to brown, about 10 minutes longer.) When the mushrooms are tender, toss them with the remaining teaspoon of oil and the pepper to taste.
You can roast the mushrooms several hours ahead and reheat them before serving in a small nonstick skillet with a little water.
Adapted from A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider (Artisan, 2001). Copyright 2001 by Sally Schneider.
A former chef, Sally Schneider has won numerous awards—including four James Beard awards—for her books and magazine writing. She is creator of the lifestyle blog Improvised Life, a featured blogger on The Atlantic Monthly's Food Blog, and author of The Improvisational Cook and A New Way to Cook. She has served as a contributing editor to both Saveur and Food & Wine, and her work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Saveur, Food & Wine, SELF and Connoisseur.