It’s tomato season, so here I am with a bruschetta recipe. I know, groundbreaking. Every year around this time I make bruschetta with abandon. I simply can’t help myself. Sure, I put the garlicky tomato mixture on toast but I also put it on pasta, rice, directly into my mouth… It’s bordering on dependency at this point. But as much as I love the OG version, I have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to food. So naturally, I find myself putting all manner of less-than-traditional things in my bruschetta and today’s Spicy Shrimp Bruschetta is a prime example.
Bruschetta, at least as it’s understood in North America, features garlic-rubbed toast piled high with a medley of tomatoes, garlic, and basil. The dressing is usually a balsamic affair and the toasts are almost always finished with a fine shaving of parm. But in Italy, the word “bruschetta” is applied to a class of food rather than a specific dish. The toast, and not the tomatoes, are the throughline. Anything perched on top of that garlic-rubbed toast qualifies as bruschetta. We’re the ones stuck on the tomato version. Italians are perfectly happy to riff on this beloved piece of toast. So let’s follow their lead and riff away.
Today, I am mixing things up a little but I won’t be leaving the tomatoes behind. Why would I? It’s tomato season after all. But in addition to the tomatoes I’m adding hot peppers and juicy poached shrimp to create this Spicy Shrimp Bruschetta. To be honest, this is less of a recipe and more of a suggestion. You won’t be doing much more other than light chopping and some stirring. The most involved portion of this recipe is the shrimp. But the nice thing is once you poach shrimp for this, you will forever know how to poach shrimp and will never have to buy an overpriced shrimp ring again. Feels good, doesn’t it?
To poach the shrimp start by smashing three large cloves of garlic. If your cloves are small double the amount. Make sure to really smash the cloves, so they have the opportunity to express as much of the garlickiness into the poaching liquid as possible. Pour 2 cups of water into a skillet and add 1/4 cup of olive oil. Place the cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of Old Bay, and three bay leaves in the pan. Add the juice of two lemons and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the liquid for 15 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and cover. Turn off the heat and let stand for 5-7 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink. Transfer the shrimp to an ice bath and remove them after two minutes. And your shrimp is ready!
The rest of this “recipe” is embarrassingly simple. Dice two large heirloom tomatoes. I kept my cuts chunky but you can definitely chop your tomatoes finer. It would make the mixture slightly more manageable to eat but I like getting a big bite of tomato every now and then. Grab half a red onion and dice it as well. Try to keep the onion dice fine. It packs a punch and is more palatable when evenly dispersed. Next, grab some red pencil hot peppers and slice them thinly. You can be as free with your quantities here as you want. It all depends on your heat tolerance. I find these particular peppers are only mildly hot. But mildly hot to me might be an inferno for you, so know yourself and stay true to yourself.
Mince a large clove of garlic and finely chop some fresh basil. Keep the pretty, tiny leaves intact to serve as a garnish for the finished toasts. Pile all the things you have chopped into a bowl. Slice the shrimp you poached earlier into bite-sized pieces and add them to the bowl as well. Now it’s time to season everything. Pour in a quarter cup of olive oil and a quarter cup of white balsamic vinegar. Add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of crushed red peppers and stir everything together. I like to leave my bruschetta to hang out for at least 30 minutes, so everything can get acquainted. But having said that and having eaten some straight out of the bowl, this bruschetta is pretty damn good from the instant it’s mixed.
While the bruschetta mixture is hanging out, let’s tackle the toast portion of the recipe. This could not be simpler. Slice up some nice and crusty bread – regular old sandwich bread need not apply. Drizzle the slices generously, and I do mean “generously”, with olive oil and pop them in a 400°F oven or toaster oven. Once the bread is crispy and golden, take it out of the oven and rub each slice with a clove of garlic. All that remains is to load those toasts up with that spicy shrimp-tomato mixture and garnish it with petals of Grana Padano and those petite basil leaves you set aside earlier.
And that’s everything you need to know about this Spicy Shrimp Bruschetta. A simple, quick, and very heat-efficient summer recipe tailor-made for tomato season. Combine this with a crisp, cold glass of white, and you’re practically on summer vacation.
Spicy Shrimp Bruschetta
- 1 Large skillet
- 2 cups water
- 3 cloves garlic smashed and peeled
- 2 lemons juiced
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
- 400g (14oz) shrimp peeled
Spicy Shrimp Bruschetta
- 1 batch poached shrimp see above
- 2 heirloom tomatoes diced
- ½ red onion finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic divided
- 2 red pencil hot peppers thinly sliced
- ¼ cup fresh basil chiffonade
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 slices crusty bread
- additional olive oil for drizzling
- ½ cup Grana Padano shaved using a vegetable peeler
For the Shrimp
- Pour the water into a skillet. Add the garlic, lemon juice, bay leaves, olive oil, and Old Bay seasoning. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes.2 cups water, 3 cloves garlic, 2 lemons, 3 bay leaves, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
- Take the skillet off of the heat and immediately add the shrimp. Cover and let sit for 5-7 minutes or until the shrimp turns pink.400g (14oz) shrimp
- Transfer the shrimp to an ice bath and let sit for 2 minutes. Drain the shrimp and chill until ready to use.
For the Bruschetta
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
- Chop the shrimp into bite-sized pieces and place them in a large bowl. Mince one clove of the garlic and add it to the shrimp. Place the tomatoes, onion, hot peppers, and basil in the bowl as well.1 batch poached shrimp, 2 heirloom tomatoes, ½ red onion, 2 cloves garlic, 2 red pencil hot peppers, ¼ cup fresh basil
- Add the olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt to the bowl and stir to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes. **¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 1 tsp salt
- While the flavors are mingling, arrange the bread slices on the baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and place them in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Take them out of the oven and rub them all over with the remaining garlic clove.8 slices crusty bread, additional olive oil, 2 cloves garlic
- Place the toast on a platter and top them with the shrimp mixture. Garnish with the Grana Padano and additional fresh basil. Serve immediately.½ cup Grana Padano