For those who are frequent diners at Italian restaurants, ‘bruschetta’ will be all too familiar. Perhaps the most popular appetizer, along with Insalata Caprese, bruschetta traditionally is a slice of Italian bread toasted with a bit of olive oil and garlic and topped with chopped tomatoes and basil. The crisp exterior of the bread combined with the flavorful fresh tomaotes and basil is irresistible. It was a favorite of mine which went by the wayside when becoming gluten-free.
Last summer we began to frequent a little trattoria in our North Boulder neighborhood. It is a small venue with indoor and outdoor seating providing a charming, cozy ambiance. Visiting in the late afternoon, when the sun is beginning to sink in the sky became out habit. The restaurant is aglow and the outdoor dining is temperature-perfect having dodged the searing rays of summer sun but still warm often with balmy breezes.
Probably the highlight of the restaurant find were both that they serve delicious gluten-free options and that they have a wickedly well-priced happy hour that runs about three hours. On our first visit we ordered an assortment of happy hour options to share to get a sense of their food. I fell immediately, head over heels in love with a version of a bruschetta they customized on a gluten-free focaccia.
For me this is one of those dishes that calls to you as soon as you walk into the restaurant. My mouth begins to water and I never order anything else which is not my norm. I realized I might have an issue when we were entertaining a long time friend visiting from out of town whom we’d taken to the restaurant. I began to order my beloved dish and the waitress was tentative, unsure, not fully conveying she knew that they offered this dish in a gluten-free form. The back of my neck became anxiously prickly with sweat. I began to over-explain the dish, speaking way too fast as I nervously fumbled through my iPhone camera roll knowing I’d Instagrammed my coveted dish to show her, prove to her, indeed they did make it. I looked up, desperately, meeting the gaze of my normally unflappable husband who was reflecting what I felt; that I might be acting insane.
Needless to say the server, who I believe was new and fortunately not easily frightened, consulted with the kitchen and all was delivered to the table. The degree of relief I felt hinted to me that perhaps I needed to break my addiction with another dish next time, that maybe my well-being, and that of my fellow diners might benefit from something that excited me a bit less. A fleeting thought that has never surfaced again when looking at the menu and I continue to order this same dish every time we visit.
At the risk of riling up your salivary glands and anticipation, I’ve created a take on my favorite dish at home. Finding the bread key to a bruschetta I’ve made a bagel version which allows that perfect crust on the top and soft insides. The combination of the salty tang of goat cheese, the smooth ripe avocado, bite of paper-thin red onion and the finishing touch of sweet chili sauce are perfection. This is a wonderful option as an appetizer or a main dish coupled with a salad of spring greens. It’s a satisfying meatless option that I’d venture might become a favorite on your table.
A visually exciting version of bruschetta using bagels and tantalizing salty, tangy goat cheese, creamy ripe avocado, red onion and sweet chili sauce. Perfect as an appetizer or satisfying main meatless dish served with a side salad. Gluten-free is gluten-free bagels are used.
- 2 Bagels (I used Udi’s Plain Gluten-Free bagels), halved
- 1 tablespoon Unsalted Butter, melted
- 1 Avocado, ripe yet firm; halved, and each half cut into 8 vertical slices, removed from skin
- ¼ small Red Onion (3 inches in diameter), sliced into paper-thin slices
- 2 ounces Goat Cheese, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons Sweet Chili Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Preheat broiler in oven.
- Lightly toast bagel halves in the toaster on a low setting. Transfer the bagel halves onto a baking sheet with the cut side facing up. Brush the cut side of the bagels with the melted butter.
- Place bagel halves under the broiler for 15-30 seconds until golden brown. NOTE: bagels can quickly burn so watch the entire time and remove before they begin to darken.
- In a small bowl, combine the sweet chili sauce and olive oil and stir to fully combine.
- Divide the crumbled goat cheese evenly between the four bagel halves. Next layer four slices of avocado on each bagel half, and the red onion slices. Drizzle with the sweet chili mixture. Serve warm.
Inspired by Bacco Trattoria and Mozarella Bar