This mushroom bruschetta (pronounced brew-sket-ta) makes for a perfect party canapé with an impressive amount of flavor packed into every bite-sized toast. That’s because each garlicky crostini is topped with a mixture of caramelized scallions and savory mushrooms glazed with balsamic vinegar. Because it uses so few ingredients, it’s important to use the best ones that you can find, including the mushrooms, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
While fake designer handbags may be relegated to shady underworld vendors hiding in the shadows of big cities, American supermarkets are filled with impostor balsamic vinegars. Like designer knock-offs, some manage to do a more convincing job than others, but unless it says “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena” on the label, chances are you’re getting red wine vinegar sweetened with corn syrup.
The reason the real stuff is so expensive is because it has to be aged for a minimum of 12 years. During the aging, the Maillard reaction develops new flavors, while evaporation concentrates them. Due to the amount of time it takes and the volume of vinegar that’s lost due to evaporation, the older the vinegar is, the more expensive it tends to be. A good bottle of 12 year aged balsamic can be had for about $30 while a 100 year aged one will set you back $700+.
I’m not saying you need to run out and buy a bottle of 100 year old vinegar for this dish (in fact I’d discourage that), but the 12 year old stuff isn’t crazy expensive and should last you for quite some time.
You can use any mix of mushrooms you like, but I like the combination of maitake, shiitake and shimeji for their texture, variety of shapes, and flavor. If you want to make this a little more rich, you can spread a little fresh ricotta on the crostini before topping with the mushrooms.
- 1 small baguette, thinly sliced (about 24 slices)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 scallions (37 grams / 1.3 ounces), minced
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) Maitake mushrooms, cleaned and shredded
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) Shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and sliced
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) Shimeji mushrooms, root end trimmed and separated
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
- Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F (170 C).
- Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a small bowl and use a pastry brush to lightly coat the top of each slice of bread with oil.
- Place the bread on a baking sheet and bake until the crostini is golden brown and crisp (6-7 minutes).
- When the crostini is done, remove the pan from the oven and give each piece a swipe with the clove of garlic.
- In a medium-sized sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the minced scallions. Sauté until the scallions are golden brown and caramelized.
- Add the mushrooms and thyme and sauté until most of the moisture has evaporated from the mushrooms and they are golden brown on the outside.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and then add the balsamic vinegar. Toss the mushrooms to glaze evenly.
- Turn off the heat when there is no liquid remaining and then add the parsley, stirring to distribute evenly. Let the mushrooms cool to room temperature.
- When you’re ready to serve the bruschetta, top each slice of crostini with the mushroom mixture.
Yield: 24 pieces
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.