Friday, October 5, 2007
Concord Grape Bruschetta with Ricotta Salata & Thyme - a Recipe
There is a bacchanalian moment each autumn when I enter the greenmarket and am instantly swathed in the rich, punchy scent of grapes. Their perfume is overwhelming – especially remarkable considering New York City’s markets are open air – and comes not just from the heaps of jade Niagaras, rusty Larchmonts, and violet Concords, but also from the vats of fresh grape juice many farmers keep at their stands.
This is one of my favorite seasonal experiences, utterly sensory and decadent, and it happened here just the other day - the grape harvest is finally at its height. I love to cook with the fruit, and I think they’re just as sumptuous in savory dishes as they are in desserts.
Here I’ve roasted some extravagantly fragrant Concords with plenty of olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper before topping them with sweet, milky shavings of ricotta salata cheese and some earthy thyme. The traditional rubbing of garlic and drizzle of olive oil – which is what technically transforms grilled or toasted bread into bruschetta – really underlines the heady aromas and flavors. Served with a refreshing glass of wine at day’s end, these make a wonderful way to welcome a crisp autumn evening.
Makes 16 bruschetta
1 lb red or purple seedless grapes, preferably Concord
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
8 slices good white country bread
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
approximately 1 oz ricotta salata
5 fresh thyme sprigs
Preheat the oven to 350 F
Remove the stems from the grapes and arrange on a small baking sheet lined with foil. Toss with plenty of olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Roast for 20 – 30 minutes until just softened and juicy.
When you’re almost ready to serve, grill or toast the bread on both sides. Cut each slice of bread in half. Immediately rub one side with the cut garlic, drizzle with olive oil, and season with sea salt and pepper.
Divide the roasted grapes between the toasts, shave over a few small slivers of ricotta salata cheese with a “y” or speed peeler, and sprinkle over the thyme leaves. Serve immediately.