These last few weeks have been, to put it gently, mental. Working overtime some days, without breaks most days, and sans decent meals every day, it would be an understatement to say I have been in a food rut.
I don’t want anymore homemade pizzas on store-bought shells; I don’t want to eat so much caesar salad until I, too, smell like Parmesan cheese; I don’t want to keep assembling my food out of jars, bags and lethargy. So I riffed on bruschetta and made mushroom and olive toast!
Natural progression, I know. I thought so too.
One of the best things I ever discovered recently was the clearance rack in my grocery store’s bakery. There I regularly buy whole wheat pitas, loaves of fancy, expensive baguettes, and, best of all, pizza pretzels. All for 99 cents! So I took one loaf of roasted garlic peppercorn baguette, sliced it thick, then toasted some flavourful topping on it and voilà: a filling dinner on a dime. The earthy quality of the mushrooms and the briney bite of the olives are amazing on their own, so don’t try to overpower the dish by adding extra garlic or too many spices.
The beauty of this recipe is how versatile it is. If tomatoes are your thing you can dice them with some chopped basil, chunks of bocconcini and a drizzle of red wine or balsamic vinegar for a fresh snack. Another option would be a nice sweet and savoury topping of prosciutto, creamy Camembert or sharp Gruyère with a slice of pear, and a drizzle of honey or apricot jam. Be creative! Grilling these would also be a great option if you are so inclined.
Olive & Mushroom Toast
1 baguette, flavoured or plain, cut into four 1″-thick slices
1 clove garlic, pressed/minced
1 1/2 to 2 cups mushrooms (any variety), diced small
3/4 cup assorted pitted olives, diced small (I used green, pimento-stuffed Sicilian olives)
1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
Pinch paprika or cayenne (optional)
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan or Asiago
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Slice the baguette and arrange on a sheet pan or baking sheet. Lightly butter the slices if you wish; it may prevent the centre from toasting though.
- In a medium pan melt butter with olive oil until tiny bubbles begin to form. Add garlic, mushrooms and olives and sauté until softened, about 5-8 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, lemon juice, parsley, and paprika or cayenne (if using).
- Remove from pan by spooning a heaping tablespoon onto each slice of baguette. Sprinkle with cheese and more parsely if desired.
- Toast in the oven until edges are crisp and cheese has slightly melted. Serve as an appetizer, side or main with salad.