Thank You Julie, Ah!
Despite that the movie has been in theaters and now on DVD for a while, I finally got around to watching Julie and Julia (God bless Netflix). Director Nora Ephron was correct in how she made the food part of the cast. Throughout the movie, the viewer is not only given a glimpse of the lives of Julie Powell and Julia Child, but also treated to a mouthwatering smorgasbord of what appeared to be delicious meals. The amusing part is that while the food was supposed to center around Julia Child’s recipes, it was a bruschetta made by Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams) early in the movie that created quite a buzz over the internet.
Bruschetta dates back to the 15th century in central Italy. Despite what you might see now, the original design simply was of grilled bread that was rubbed with garlic and then topped with oil, salt, and pepper. Variations did arise containing tomatoes, basil, olives, and even meats and cheeses. In the end, it was still served as an appetizer and the basis is of crunchy cooked bread.
The bruschetta served in Julie and Julia became a rage over the internet simply because of the beautiful colors and fresh, chunky ingredients served on top of bread fried in oil. I’ve made bruschetta before and did the usual thing of chopped tomatoes mixed with olive oil and basil, but this bruschetta just wowed me. I’m also sure Chris Messina devouring the dish like a hungry jackal added to the appeal. It was the larger chunks of tomato, bigger leaves of basil and what appeared to be something orange that made this bruschetta stand out.
I searched online and found a myriad of recipes all claiming to be the one shown in Julie and Julia, but image after image, it just didn’t seem to really look like the dish made in the movie. The suggestions handed to me were to seek out a variety of tomatoes to get those colors, but I more remembered how bruschetta isn’t just limited to tomatoes, oil, and basil.
I found my answer in orange peppers. Have a look and decide for yourself.
- 1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes
- 2 orange peppers
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 loaf of any thick, hearty bread of your choosing
- 1 bunch of fresh basil
- Slice all the tomatoes and peppers into small chunks about the size of quarters or nickels.
- Heat up 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan on medium.
- When the oil is hot, place the orange peppers into the oil and cook until they soften and are just starting to brown.
- Remove peppers and place tomatoes into the pan to soften them a bit. Do not cook the tomatoes, just heat them a little to soften them up. Remove from pan when finished.
- In a bowl, mix the tomatoes and peppers with 2 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to your taste preference.
- In the empty frying pan, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and heat it up on medium-high.
- When the oil is hot, place a few thick slices of your preferred bread into the oil and cook until the outsides are toasted. Remove from the oil and pat them off with a paper towel if they appear to be too oily.
- Take the clove of garlic and rub it on the now toasted bread. The course cooked sides should act as a small grater and thus scrape some of the essence off.
- Arrange toasted bread on a plate and top with the tomato/pepper mixture.
- Garnish with a few pieces of basil torn from the bunch.
The idea of cooking the vegetables a little is to soften them down. Bruschetta is generally a nice topping that isn’t full of crunch. We do the peppers separate from the tomatoes simply because peppers require more time.
I use fresh basil for this dish simply because this is not just about flavor, but the visual. You can stir in dried basil instead of fresh, but it looks so much nicer with fresh basil.
The bread you use is entirely up to you. As you can see in the image, I used a thick wheat, a hearty rye, and even a “corn cake” (similar to a rice cake), only I didn’t toast the corn cake.
You can use your toaster instead if you want to not fry the bread, but it takes so much better with it fried. If you go the toaster route, then at least brush the finished bread with olive oil before you rub the garlic on it. The oil is part of the flavor of bruschetta.