Published October 17, 2011 - Last Updated January 22, 2021
I was inspired by a post on Food 52 (one of my favorite food websites!) in May, where co-founder Merrill Stubbs described a simple and mouth-watering Bruschetta With Ricotta, Honey, and Lemon Zest. Salty and sweet with a bright touch of lemon… how could that be bad?? I wondered how this concept would taste on lightly charred challah slices. Challah has such a terrific flavor, and when lightly toasted it really sings—crispy on the outside, soft and moist and eggy on the inside. I thought it might suit this recipe perfectly, so I put the idea on my “to try” list.
Sukkot seemed like the perfect opportunity to give this recipe a go. The Jewish holiday of Sukkot is a harvest festival, and bruschetta is traditionally served during the olive oil harvest in Italy. The dish was developed to show off the season’s new oil during the Italian olive harvest.
I learned about bruschetta on a culinary trip to Tuscany, where we sampled freshly pressed olive oil at an olive farm about 2 hours outside of Rome. The farm is called Frantoio Archibusacci G & F; it’s been there for generations.
While there, we learned how olives are harvested. They also taught us a bit about the history of the farm, which was founded in the late 1800’s by a Tuscan oil trader. It was purchased in 1935 by the Archibusacci family, who grew it into a thriving olive oil business.
Today, the farm produces cold pressed extra virgin organic olive oil the old fashioned way, by stone grinding the olives. Archibusacci is known for having a “slightly fruity” flavor, and has been ranked as one of the top ten olive oils in Italy.
After a short lesson in olive oil production, we got to sample the good stuff. Bruschetta is traditionally made with only four ingredients—bread, garlic, olive oil and salt. The bread is toasted and rubbed with garlic. Then, the garlicky slices are drenched in olive oil and sprinkled with salt to taste.
Over time, fresh seasonal ingredients have been added to enhance the bruschetta concept. One of the most popular combinations is ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and garlic. Sometimes chopped olives mixed with olive oil are mounded on top. And of course, there are delectable cheese versions, like the one I’m sharing with you today.
No matter how fancy a bruschetta might be, four things always remain the same—bread, garlic, salt, and olive oil. Bruschetta = olive oil harvest, Sukkot = harvest festival. Appropriate? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely!
You guys are going to love this one. Simple, rustic, divine. I didn’t change much from the original recipe besides using challah as the bread; I did add a bit of fresh lemon juice to the ricotta for a more pronounced lemon flavor. Choose the best quality cow’s milk ricotta you can find (the highest quality is usually the most expensive; buy whatever your budget allows!). Make sure you choose a nice quality extra virgin olive oil, too. I found that a light colored honey works best flavor-wise. I prefer sprinkling the bruschetta with sea salt, but kosher salt can also be used if you prefer a more coarse salt texture. If you’re a vegetarian, look for a vegetarian ricotta cheese (no animal rennet).
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Thanks for stopping by! I am fascinated by the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the foods of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s food can inspire us in the kitchen today. Read more...