This grilled bread with prosciutto recipe is in Ina Garten’s (The Barefoot Contessa) latest cookbook How Easy is That? Ina put it in the cocktails category, but for us it easily was dinner when we combined it with a green salad and a cold beer.
Since the recipe isn’t on the Food Network site yet, I’ll talk you through it below, with a few changes. I used regular fresh mozzarella cheese instead of the fresh smoked one that Ina called for because I couldn’t find smoked mozzarella. Ina grated the cheese, but what I bought was too soft to grate, so I broke it up into bits with my fingers. I also thought the dish needed a burst of fresh flavor, so I added fresh basil leaves in the layer between the cheese and the prosciutto.
Choose a good, sturdy bread and cut it into 6 slices. Grill or toast the bread in a toaster oven on one side until golden. Immediately rub the grilled side with a half of a slice of a large garlic clove. Ina recommends that if you like a real garlicky flavor, rub hard. We thought that the garlic really made it, so don’t skip this step. Drizzle each slice with a little extra virgin olive oil.
Crumble 2 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese well with your fingers or grate it and divide it into six piles. Tear 2 ounces of Prosciutto de Parma and divide into six piles. To assemble, place one pile of the prosciutto on the grilled side of each bread slice. Slip in a fresh basil leaf or two, and top with crumbled mozzarella cheese. Return the bread to a hot grill or toaster oven to melt the cheese and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove the slices and drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, season to taste with a little kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve hot.
This is a rich appetizer, both in terms of taste and your wallet. When you are making a dish with only a few ingredients, it’s essential that you use only the finest of ingredients, which is what real Prosciutto de Parma is as opposed to the stuff you find in styro-packs at the grocery store hanging on a rack in the deli. It is also expensive. Combined with the melted mozzarella, this is a very rich and filling dish. As far as easy goes, Ina was right on with that. It took only a few minutes to put it together.
Would we serve it again? As much as I love Ina and trust her recipes and own all of her cookbooks, probably not on this one. The main reason is we felt that the mozzarella cheese overpowered the prosciutto and all we tasted was cheese. If I’m going to buy the good (and expensive) Prosciutto de Parma, I want to savor and taste every morsel. In all fairness, Ina called for prosciutto and did not specify Prosciutto de Parma. But would you really want to use the cheap stuff? Plus, the dish was, in our opinion, too heavy as an appetizer and would spoil your or your guest’s appetite for dinner.
Have you tried this recipe and, if so, what did you think of it?