Wikipedia says that bruschetta is “toasted Italian bread drenched in olive oil and served typically with garlic or tomatoes.” I say it is a blank canvas upon which you can add any topping of your choice. I like to serve it with a sparkling wine.
The history of the bruschetta dates from the Etruscans. It is said that while occupying the land between Rome and Tuscany, they began dressing the local, salt-less bread with olive oil and baking it in wood-fired ovens. Bruschetta comes from the Italian word bruscare, which means to roast over coals.
½ cup Asiago cheese (finely grated)
⅓ cup cornmeal (ground fine)
⅓ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 Japanese eggplant (sliced lengthwise into 6 slices about ¼-inch thick)
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (plus 6 teaspoons for drizzle)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
Six ¾-inch thick slices of French bread
18 small grape tomatoes (cut in half lengthwise)
6 ounces fresh mozzarella (¼-inch dice)
12 fresh basil leaves
Additional grated Asiago cheese (for garnish)
Combine cheese, cornmeal, flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Set aside.
Sprinkle both sides of each slice of eggplant with salt. Place on paper towels and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the eggplant in the cheese mixture, making sure both sides are well coated. Carefully slide the breaded eggplant into the oil and fry until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer eggplant back to the paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Toast the bread until golden. Place toast on a baking sheet. Divided the minced garlic evenly between the pieces of toast. Drizzle one teaspoon of olive oil over each piece and place a slice of fried eggplant on top. Sprinkle chopped tomatoes over the eggplant. Layer two leaves of basil on top of each piece and then spread one ounce of mozzarella on top of that.
Place baking sheet into the oven and broil until cheese melts and is slightly golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle with a little more grated Asiago. Serve while still warm.