My husband had a dinner meeting last night, so my 5 year old and 2 year old got to plan the menu of "bouncy noodles", or rotini to you and me. My picky 5 year old likes hers very plain, with just a little butter, parmesan and a sprinkle of seasoned salt. My gourmet 2 year old needs a little more flair, so I had some sun-dried tomato pesto for her noodles. Well, my husband's dinner meeting got cancelled, which meant he'd be home for dinner. That meant things needed to be jazzed up a bit. The first thing that he asked was "what are we having for appetizers?" Since I wasn't planning on serving appetizers, I had to act fast and use what I had on hand. Since I was planning on making some croutons for our salads anyway, I just thought I'd use some of those croutons to make some bruschetta for appetizers.
I like to use a french loaf, multigrain, take and bake bread to make croutons. While you are slicing the bread into 1 inch (or a bit less) thick slices, preheat the oven to 500. Brush each side of the bread with good olive oil, and lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with a little sea salt. I actually had a grill basket that I used, because the croutons get the heat from above and below, and it makes it very easy to flip them half way through. Bake the croutons for 10 minutes, flipping half way through. While the croutons are baking, peel and cut in half, 2 cloves of garlic. When the croutons are browned and crisp, rub one side of each crouton with garlic. Place the croutons that you are making into bruschetta on a baking sheet, and switch oven from 500 to broil. Place the croutons that will stay as croutons, on a cutting board to cube later. To top the bruschetta, I had to use what I had on hand, so I topped a couple of them with sliced brie cheese, others with 1 tablespoon each of sun-dried tomato pesto, a few pignoli nuts, and a shaving of pecorino romano cheese, and I topped a few others with crumbled feta mixed with chopped grape tomatoes. I placed these bad boys under the broiler for about 2 minutes, and TaDa, appetizers were ready with just what I had in the kitchen. The beauty of bruschetta is top as you please, with what you have available, an olive tapenade would be great, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red bell peppers, what ever you've got in your kitchen.