- ½ baguette French bread or similar Italian bread
- 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
- cheddar cheese, cut into thin strips
- Dried basil (fresh if availble)
- Black pepper to taste
- Spring Vale sorrel vinaigrette
- cooking spray
- Slice the french bread on the diagonal, about ½ in. slices. Spray both sides with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.
- Toast bread slices in an oven under high broil on each side for 2-3 minutes or until it just begins to turn golden brown.
- Remove and layer on tomato, cheese, top with black pepper and basil and return to over for another 2 minutes until cheese begins to melt and tomatoes wilt gently.
- Remove and drizzle with Spring Vale sorrel vinaigrette. Enjoy immediately.
Serves 2-3 as an appetizer, or 1-2 for brunch/lunch.
My take on a classic bruschetta margherita is as simple as Italian food gets. Bruschettas are usually finished with a drizzle of a fine olive oil. But after having stumbled upon on a locally produced vinaigrette, I was super excited to see how it would fare.
A member of the Hibiscus family, sorrel is a shrub which bears small pink flowers. However, it is the fleshier sepals which turn red when the plant matures, usually between November and December, that are harvested and used in many dishes worldwide. Just for some perspective, Jamaican sorrel (roselle, or hibiscus sabdariffa) is unquestionably symbolic of Christmas on our island. Kitchens across the full length and breadth of Jamaica are stained with the characteristic crimson colour and perfumed with ginger and fine Jamaican rums which usually accompany this delicious drink with a distinctive, delicate flavour.
Sorrel has transcended the conventional Jamaican spiced drink and has made its way into many scrumptious culinary creations. Some of my favourite include sorrel cheesecake (yum!); sorrel jam (chutney), good for spreading on crackers or in a sauce; and sorrel tea – which I first discovered while I was living in Colombia, where it’s called “flor de Jamaica” (translated Jamaican flower). My newest favourite? The star of today’s recipe of course; a delectable 100% Jamaican gourmet sorrel vinaigrette by local Jamaican manufacturer Spring Vale.
I first came across the product line – which consists of three flavours: sorrel, guava, and june plum – on a stroll through MegaMart (a popular Jamaican supermarket chain). Gazing through the aisles, my bestie Corve and I were immediately drawn to what we thought was a very modern, pretty product design. We had no idea what it was, let alone that it was locally produced. The moment we realised that this was a Jamaican product it was in the shopping cart. It looked that good. We decided to just get one – the guava – and try it out before we snatched the other two. But as fate would have it, a few days after, Corve happened to meet the lady behind the pretty bottle. I received a call that night from a super excited Corve who was overwhelmed to share that he was chatting with Ms. Sandra McLeish, Managing Director of Spring Vale, at Chefs on Show at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. (Check out Spring Vale’s facebook page and twitter). He handed her the phone and I shared a quick review of the product design with her. At that time I still had not gotten around to tasting the product so I really couldn’t comment on that. But after telling her about my food blog , she was pretty happy to pass on a complimentary bottle of my choice. I chose sorrel and I have no regrets. The distinct yet distinguishable delicate sorrel flavour came through with an intricate mix of tang and sweet. The vinaigrette, both product and packaging, truly matched that of international standards and could undoubtedly compete with top brands. It pleases my heart when I see local products on the supermarket shelves worthy of being chosen over an international competitor. I’m sure you guys will agree with me that this is a sexy bottle. Rarrr
Ok, I admit, I’m getting a little carried away so let’s refocus a little on the overall dish. As a Jamaican, I really did not grow up with a sound concept of small bites. You see, the typical Caribbean folk likes their food pretty bold; in both flavour and size. Caribbean cuisine rarely takes on the minimalist, clean aesthetic that many other international cuisines – such as Japanese and Italian – are known for. I admit I love bold flavours: I am pretty known by my closest friends for employing many different herbs and spices in my cooking. But I’ve come to appreciate and laud modern, minimalist cuisines. This dish was pretty simple, but very tasty. The bread was just a few hours old, toasted to a crisp golden brown; layered with slices of perfectly ripened tomatoes from dad’s home farm; topped with cheddar cheese melted to gooey goodness; and finished with a sprinkle of fragrant dried basil. And to push the dish into overdrive, a careful drizzle of sorrel vinaigrette. The perfect bite.
I’m elated to see what delights the other flavours will inspire so check back soon.