Concord, N.H. When the lure of the grill sinks in this summer, think outside the giant portobello mushrooms and veggie burger box. This season, offer more exciting and unexpected vegetarian fare.
Not that marinated meaty mushrooms hot off the grill and slapped between toasted buns aren't a sensational summer meal, and likewise for the ever-growing variety of prepared vegetarian patties.
But how predictable.
For something different try bruschetta, large slices of hearty fresh bread grilled until just crisp and lightly brown, then topped with anything from roasted garlic to goat cheese to fresh tomatoes.
In her book, "Bruschetta, Crostini and Other Italian Snacks" (Ryland, Peters & Small, 2003, $12.95), Maxine Clark takes readers on a culinary tour via these simple dishes, starting with the Tuscan "fettunta."
Translated as "anointed sliced," fettunta are slices of bread grilled over hot coals, rubbed with raw garlic and sprinkled with olive oil, Clark writes. Ripe tomato then is crushed by hand and smashed on to the bread.
For another simple yet sensational idea for grilled bruschetta, try Clark's Olive Oil and Garlic Bruschetta.'
Olive Oil and Garlic Bruschetta
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for sprinkling
Pinch chili or crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 thick slices country bread, preferably sourdough
Slice the garlic cloves lengthwise into paper-thin slices. Warm a small skillet over a medium flame. Add the 1/3 cup olive oil and the garlic. Stirring constantly, cook until the garlic is aromatic and golden (don't let it brown, as it will be bitter).
Remove the skillet from the flame and stir in the chili or red pepper flakes and parsley. Cover and set aside.
Grill the bread on both sides until lightly browned and crisp, then sprinkle with olive oil. Spoon the garlic-olive oil mixture over each slice. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.