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      RECIPE TITLE "Bruschetta with Swordfish and Mint" Author Sicilian Home Cooking: Family Recipes from Gangivecchio Copyright © 2001 by Wanda and Giovanna Tornabene with Michele Evans

    yields 6time--- difficulty easy

    The word bruschetta comes from the verb abbruscare, which in Italian means "to burn without flames." In the fall in the Sicilian countryside, it is common to see clouds of smoke slowly drifting off at an angle, rising from large patches of land: the contadini burning the land to sterilize it. We say that they "abbruscano la terra."

    Bruschetta is a slice of good Italian bread put on a grill over a fire and toasted until it is crispy and light brown on both sides. If you don't have a grill, the bread can be toasted under a broiler.

    The classic bruschetta is a slice of bread rubbed with a pungent slice of garlic and grilled. The topping is simply a brush stroke of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper. If Mamma is napping and I'm alone in the late afternoon, and hungry, I prepare myself a merenda [snack] of two or three of these classic bruschetta. I might have a glass of chilled white wine. And I also might listen to Bach -- he is nourishment, too.

    Beyond the classic bruschetta, there are countless other toppings. One of the most admired is a fragrant mixture of chopped tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Sometimes people add a little diced mozzarella to this combination. We give a few examples of our favorite toppings here, but the choice is really up to the cook's own fantasy.


    • Olive oil
    • 1 pound swordfish, diced
    • 8 mint leaves, finely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1 slice of white sandwich bread, crusts removed, and torn apart into small pieces
    • 2 tablespoons milk
    • Twelve 1-inch-thick slices Italian bread, toasted


    1. In a large frying pan, put enough olive oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. Add the swordfish and cook over high heat, stirring, until white and just cooked. Add the mint, garlic, and tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    2. Meanwhile, soak the pieces of bread in the milk.
    3. Remove the garlic from the pan and discard. Add the soaked bread. Season mixture with salt and pepper and crush lightly with a fork.
    4. Put the mixture into a serving bowl. Place the bowl on a platter and surround with the toasted bread. Serve immediately.


    HOT!We recommend:

    Sicilian Home Cooking: Family Recipes from Gangivecchio Listen to Mama Tornabene talk to her butcher: "How do you dare say that this red roast is the most tender, youngest veal you have? Show me the birth certificate.... I'll become a vegetarian before I'll buy this. Come, come, Pino, before we start arguing, give me the veal you have saved for yourself." If you take your Italian food seriously, you definitely want Mama to go shopping for you. Or you will want to book a flight to Sicily so you can go eat in the restaurant she and her daughter, Giovanna, run in their home, a 13th-century Benedictine abbey in Sicily's Madonie Mountains.
    The first book from the wonderful Tornabenes, La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio won a James Beard Award for Best Italian Cookbook, and now they've returned with second helpings for everybody. This time the focus is on home cooking, with its many soups, fresh vegetables, pastas, egg dishes, and more Sicilian desserts. There's a special chapter on couscous, an Arabic dish given a Sicilian spin, and one on homemade liquors, including a tangy Bay Laurel Leaf Liqueur and the lemon liqueur known as Limoncello.
    What's particularly charming is the sense of family and daily life that come from the little stories interspersed throughout the book, like the day the little dog Ciccio got into the hen house -- "Murder in the Hen House!" -- or the time a bar of soap inadvertently dropped into a pot of boiling water for pasta --resulting in a new recipe,"Spaghetti with Soap." (Ginger Curwen)


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