Without a doubt :: dubbio, this spicy shrimp, fennel and radicchio bruschetta recipe has quickly become my favorite bruschetta recipe of all time. Mr. Italicano agrees :: è d’accordo…he devoured this appetizer in minutes. I had to hoard a few on my plate :: piatto otherwise he would have also eaten my share!
Mr. Italicano and I had quite the interesting conversation :: conversazione when we bit into these delectable bruschetta creations. It went something like this:
“Mmmmm,” I said.
“Mmmmmmmmm,” Mr. Italicano said.
“Mmmmmmmmmmmm,” I responded.
“Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm,” Mr. Italicano exclaimed waving one hand in a circle, an Italian gesture that means this is freaking good! Actually, I don’t believe Italians have the slang word “freaking” in their vocabulary but the phrase “this is delicious” just doesn’t give the punch of how astronomically good these are!
I’m sure that if someone were eavesdropping on our conversation, we could have been mistaken as primitive Neanderthals. Somehow we just weren’t able to vocalize a string of consonants and vowels to create a sentence :: una frase, as that would have required releasing our clench from our beloved bruschetta. I don’t think so!
What makes this bruschetta not just good but incredible :: incredibile? Freshness and spiciness are the keywords we’re looking for here. Fresh vegetables, herbs, artisan bread and shrimp are coupled with a subtle kick to create a perfect sensation for the palate.
I only used half of a chili pepper, which gives just a slight punch when you bite into the bruschetta but does not evoke tears streaming down your face. If you want to cry :: piangere, just up the amount; however, I haven’t tested it and it could drown out the other delicious flavors.
The quality of bread is also important for this recipe. I can’t even fathom making this recipe on pre-packaged sliced white bread. *Shiver.* There are so many good rustic breads to be found at the grocery store or local bakery :: forno locale. By rustic, I mean moist on the inside and golden and crusty on the outside. I am known to wait 20 minutes in line at a small bakery near my house just to get the best quality bread. I even have to arrive early, because if I show up near closing time all the bread will be sold out, it’s happened before.
I’ve made this recipe twice now and both times I am taken back on how good it is. They always say that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach :: stomaco, so ladies, if you want to impress a new guy in your life I definitely recommend whipping up this appetizer followed by Baked Sole with Blood Oranges.
Do you know how to correctly say this appetizer? Most Americans pronounce the “che” in bruschetta like they would in the word :: parola moustache. The “che” in Italian is always a hard sound like the “k” in the word skate, so pronunce the word like “bru’sket’ta. Always, always, always pause after the first double letter (I am a huge violator of this) otherwise it’s not pronounced correctly and you may be ridiculed *cough, Mr. Italicano, *cough. Test your pronunciation out the next time you are in an authentic Italian restaurant and let me know how it went!
- Yields: 6 pieces
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- ¼ fennel, chopped
- ½ head radicchio, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon dried rosemary (if you have fresh, even better, I didn’t)
- ⅛ teaspoon dried oregano (if you have fresh, even better, I didn’t)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon pesto (store bought or homemade)
- 6 slices of rustic artisan bread
- 10 fresh shrimp, deveined and cut in half
- ½ red or green chili pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika
- Preheat the oven to 400°F
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add fennel and continue cooking for 15 minutes.
- Add radicchio, sun dried tomatoes, salt and pepper, rosemary, oregano, basil, parsley and pesto. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Position the bread on the sheet, rub each piece with a clove of garlic followed by a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 5-7 minutes until crunchy.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on high heat in a separate skillet or sauté pan. After 1 minute add the shrimp, chili pepper, paprika, salt and pepper. Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring and flipping the shrimp often.
- Spread out the bread on a cutting board or serving plate, distribute vegetable mixture on top followed by 3-4 pieces of shrimp on each bruschetta.
- Drizzle with remaining olive oil and chili peppers that were left in the pan. Serve warm and dive in!