Thursday, September 27, 2012

Long Lost Cousins and Buttery Shrimp Bruschetta

Bruschetta is a widely popularized food, graciously donated to us by the Italians.  The actual origins date back to around the 15th century and has been utilized since.  Traditionally, bruschetta consists of toasted bread, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.  There are a wide rage of variations to this dish, with the implement of tomato and sometimes cheese, being the most popular.  It is also common to serve bruschetta topped with other items including, but not limited to  veggies and cured meats, sliced thinly.   The variation I created wanted at the spur of the moment on Friday past, with some prompts from my sister Hollie.  We had the taste for  a repeat of the pasta that I had prepared for the wonderful lunch we had with our brother Ken, a couple of weeks prior.   She had really enjoyed the flavor profile created by the lemon in conjunction with the garlic and butter. The taste had lingered in her mind.  I too, reminisced about that mellifluous blend and wanted to either repeat the recipe or create another with a similar profile.  I whipped up a fabulous Rigatoni Bake for  an easy No-Fuss Friday, with seconds included.  I had a delicious loaf of Italian bread to serve either plain and toasted or garlic bread style so I concluded that I could combine the best of both worlds by turning the toasted garlic bread into amazing flavor filled loaf halves of buttery garlicky goodness, with a sweet spot.  This recipe packs a great punch with B vitamins, lycopene, vitamin C, omega 3's and monounsaturated fats, that help raise levels of HDL's or high density lipoproteins ( good cholesterol) and helps to lower  LDL's/low density lipoproteins(bad cholesterol).  The sesame seeds provide a substantial amount of the RDA for Vitamin C as well.
We had some surprise guests that evening including our close cousins ( our moms are sisters) Tricia and Brian, and his friend, Lynn, all hailing originally from Maryland, recently relocating here to Virginia.  Normally, we would see these cousins maybe once a year during our  family's reunion, if schedules permitted.  We now get to congregate like neighbors, which is awesome.  Friday, we enjoyed a pleasant evening filled with laughter, stories and libations, plates brimming with my bruschetta creation and the Rigationi Bake, showered in freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.  My family thought the recipe was fab, and there were requests for seconds on the  Shrimp Bruschetta, which is a tell tale sign of a favorable dish.  I really appreciate when things come together, especially family and a new recipe, at the same time.  Happiness and contentment can be just that simple, and we are already making plans to get together and 'chilllax' again in the near future.  "Love Each Day" and I hope this recipe finds a place in your home too!
1 lb. Italian loaf w/ sesame seeds, cut in half lengthwise
4 tbsp. butter
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
16 31-40 count shrimp, peeled and rough chopped
zest of 1 lemon
juice of two wedges
2 small or 1 medium tomato, chopped
pinch of Old Bay
6 basil leaves, chiffonade
olive oil for drizzling
Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish, optional
In a medium bowl, combine garlic, shrimp, tomatoes, lemon zest, lemon juice, old bay, basil, drizzled olive oil and SPST.  Mix well, set aside.
Preheat oven to 400*F.  Drizzle loaf halves liberally with olive oil and place in oven.
Cook until toasty and slightly golden, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in saute pan over medium heat and when small bubbles form, add shrimp mixture and cook gently for about 2 minutes.
Spread mixture over bread and place back into the oven and cook until golden and shrimp is cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Garnish with cheese if desired.  Cut into desired portion size and serve as appetizers or with pasta.
I added the shrimp mixture to only 1 side of the loaf for versatility and because my children's father has a shellfish allergy!

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