SERIOUSLY SIMPLE: Bruschetta, perfect for a picnic or a barbecue
White bean bruschetta: After exhausting the tomato possibilities, there are ways to expand your repertoire. (Angie Cao/TCA Photo)
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Dice the tomatoes into 1/2-inch pieces and drain over a bowl for 30 minutes to remove excess liquid.
2. Combine all topping ingredients except the cheese in a small nonreactive bowl. Stir well and taste for seasoning.
3. Prepare grill for medium-hot grilling. Place the bread on the grill and grill each side just until marks of the grill appear. Remove from grill and place on a serving platter. Rub the bread on each side with whole garlic cloves.
4. Add the cheese to the topping, spoon the mixture onto each bread slice, and then drizzle over a little more olive oil. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and serve.
Make ahead: The topping may be prepared up to 6 hours in advance through step 2 and refrigerated. The toasts can be prepared 2 hours ahead.
White Bean Bruschetta with Sugar Snap Peas
Excerpted from "50 Best Plants on the Planet" by Cathy Thomas (Chronicle Books, 2013)
Yields 8 servings.
16 half-inch slices whole-wheat baguette, such as sourdough wheat
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
16 sugar snap peas, plus more for garnish
One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, undrained (Note: Canned beans can be salty, so use caution when adding salt; none may be needed.)
1 Roma tomato, cored, finely diced
3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional: 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into quarter-inch strips
1. Adjust an oven rack to about 8 to 10 inches below the broiler element. Preheat the broiler. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush both sides lightly with oil, using 1 to 2 tablespoons of the oil. Broil until the bread is brown on the outside edges but slightly soft in the center. Turn, sprinkle with the salt, and repeat broiling until the bread is lightly toasted.
2. Add about 4 cups water to a large saucepan. Bring it to a boil on high heat. Add the peas and blanch until they are tender-crisp, 30 to 60 seconds. Drain and refresh them with cold water. If they are present, remove strings when the peas are cool enough to handle.
3. Put the beans in a medium bowl; mash them to a coarse consistency with a fork. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the tomato, parsley, onion, basil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
4. If using, top each toasted bread with 1 or 2 prosciutto strips. Top each toast with a spoonful of the bean mixture. Garnish each with a sugar snap pea.
Make Ahead: The topping may be prepared up to 6 hours in advance through step 2 and refrigerated. The toasts can be prepared 2 hours ahead.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including "Seriously Simple Holidays," and also a James Beard award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at http://www.seriouslysimple.com.)