Meatless Monday Dinner: Quick Bruschetta (Or, Um, Mini Pizzas!)

August 30, 2010

By Mark Bishop, deputy director

Last week my family went to a restaurant and had bruschetta as an appetizer. There were endless options  with different types of cheeses, meats, veggies — if there is a traditional bruschetta, it wasn’t found here. The permutations were endless, and with all the tomatoes growing in my garden, I thought it would be a perfect excuse to prevent my tomatoes from going bad. My question, as my four year old gets pickier: Would he eat this meal?

I didn’t have any loaves of french bread, but I did have my favorite whole wheat sandwich bread. Quickly, I scoured for other ingredients. Here’s what I made:

Ingredients:

1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 medium-sized onion diced

1/2 head of garlic, minced

1 large tomato, diced

Splash of white wine

Salt and pepper to taste

Buffalo mozzarella

Ricotta cheese

4 pieces of bread

Herbs from the garden

Olive oil

First I grilled the peppers in a pan with olive oil until they were soft and slightly caramelized — about 12 minutes on high heat — and placed them in a bowl. In the same pan I added more olive oil, most of the garlic and the onion. I let these slightly, and then I added a splash of white wine to deglaze: the pan — meaning to dissolve the tasty caramelized solids on the pan. I added this to the peppers. Then to the peppers, I added the tomato, salt and pepper to taste and some diced herbs — we had sage and basil that Henry picked.

Next I pan grilled the bread with olive oil until crispy and golden. I love pan frying bread. It makes it so much more substantial. The assembly began — which is a very kid-friendly activity…

  • Cut the bread in quarters
  • Spoon a teaspoon of ricotta on each bread quarter
  • Spoon a teaspoon of peper/tomato mix on top of the ricotta
  • Lay a small slice of mozzeraella
  • Sprinkle with fresh herbs

Nothing like fresh herbs and tomatoes from the garden. And while the idea of bruschetta didn’t necessarily appeal to Henry, when we described it as mini pizzas he started to go to town. It was delicious for everyone. It was a really yummy and satisfying meatless meal. In the end, a little coaching for Henry, and a little re-marketing, and we had a delicious and healthy meal.

It reminded me of a study that came out last year proving that, in a nutshell, kids eat more vegetables if you give the vegetables silly names. (You can check out the original article here.) Sometimes all it takes is a little re-framing. This worked for me at home and I can imagine all the ways it might work in a school cafeteria or a classroom. Have you had experiences — or successes — with this phenomenon?

Minipizza