I'm so blessed to have a job that allows me to work from home. Even better is that I get to cook for a living! But that means some days all that comes out of my kitchen is cupcakes. Or doughnuts. Many days I don't even sit down to enjoy a real meal—breakfast, lunch, and dinner can consist of Marcona almonds, gummy cokes, and few bites of miscellaneous leftovers.
My fiancé is usually gone during the daytime hours, so that doesn't help matters. (I'm sure that if he was home during my recipe testing I would attempt to control my strange eating habits a bit more.) This past week I've had a particularly crazy week of deadlines and food projects—I've fried more chicken in two days than most people fry in a lifetime—that led me to have a "that's enough" moment. I needed to sit down and have a sensible meal even if it killed me.
Which leads me to this bruschetta. One of my favorite snacks is sourdough bread slathered with goat cheese, but I wanted to take it one step further in order to justify calling it lunch. I'm a mushroom-addict and figured the earthy flavors would be satisfying without having to add meat. Peppery arugula added a bit of spice and color, and garlic-infused olive oil took the flavors to another level.
I know this recipe might seem a little labor intensive for an everyday lunch, but sometimes you deserve it. If you can't find time to pull this together for a leisurely afternoon, it would be just as divine as a light dinner for two or snacks before heading out on the town.
Mushroom and Arugula Bruschetta
3 - 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup good-quality olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, chopped small
8 ounces mixed mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoons sherry
1/2 cup chicken, vegetable, or mushroom stock, warmed
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 thick slices sourdough bread
Good-quality fresh cheese, such as burrata, buffalo mozzarella, or goat
Baby arugula or watercress, tossed with a bit of olive oil
Sea salt and coarse black pepper, for serving
To make the garlic oil, cook the olive oil and garlic cloves in a small saucepan over medium heat until the oil is gently bubbling around the cloves, about 4 -5 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally so the cloves do not begin to brown. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Discard garlic cloves before using.
To make the mushrooms, melt the butter in a large skillet or braising dish over medium heat. Add the shallots and sweat until just softened. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown and tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook until it is completely absorbed, for another minute or two.
Add the sherry and let it cook out completely. Pour in the warm chicken stock and reduce the liquid until the mushrooms have an almost syrup-like consistency (increase the heat to medium-high if necessary). Stir in chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice; season generously with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to serve.
Heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Brush each slice of sourdough with garlic oil (reserve the rest for another use) and place face down on the grill pan. Cook until light golden brown and toasted. Flip and cook other side until toasted.
Pile half of the mushroom mixture on the garlic-y side of a slice of bread. Add a handful of arugula and top with a hunk of fresh cheese. Sprinkle with sea salt and coarse black pepper, cut in half on the diagonal, and serve immediately.
Note: If you want a creamier mushroom bruschetta, stir in a dallop of crème fraiche to the finished mushrooms.
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(Images: Nealey Dozier)