Perfect Appetizer: Spinach and Fontina Bruschetta

Thursday, December 15, 2011

This one's courtesy of Miss Italian herself, Giada de Laurentiis. I caught her show one afternoon while folding laundry, saw this recipe, and promptly went out to buy the spinach and fontina to make it. It was delicious and just perfect for a snack while in holiday hell right now if you're like me, or as an appetizer for dinner or any upcoming holiday cocktail parties. The green is super festive, the preparation is very simple and easy, and most importantly it's delicious. You'll love. Even the kids ate it and Little Boy hates spinach (but haha! he likes cheese so I fooled him! muahahaha!)

Spinach and Fontina Bruschetta
2 bunches fresh spinach
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil + more for bread
1 large garlic clove (for bread) + 1 small garlic clove (for spinach saute)
pinch red pepper flakes
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf chiabatta bread
1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the bread into 1/2" thick slices and set on a baking sheet. Brush or drizzle with olive oil on top side, then place in oven and toast until top is golden brown, about 7-10 minutes (keep an eye on it!) Remove from oven and set aside. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.  While the bread is still warm but cool enough to touch, take the large garlic clove and rub the tops of each slice of bread.

Take the spinach and cut off the stems, leaving the tender leaves to work with. Place all the leaves in a large bowl (or plug up your sink) and cover with cold water. Let soak for 10 minutes -- this will loosen and remove any sand or dirt still on the leaves. Take and rinse out in coliander -- better, spin in a salad spinner. Set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a saute pan on low heat. Roughly chop the smaller clove of garlic and add it to the oil along with the red pepper flakes. Cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes to infuse the flavors into the oil; hotter heat will burn the garlic and flakes. Add the spinach all at once, season with a good pinch of salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Don't worry if the amount of spinach looks massive -- it will cook down considerably in minutes into almost nothing. Once spinach is nice and wilted down, cover with lid and cook on low heat 5 minutes more. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste. Set aside.

To assemble the bruschetta, take the spinach and portion out on each slice of bread. Top with some cheese, then return back to the 350 degree oven to melt the cheese a little, about 5-10 minutes. Serve hot.

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