Space Bruschettas are so good that they could even divert Darth Vader’s attention from his plans to conquer while driving the Star Destroyer.
Just as we love to associate a film with a dish, we do the same with works of art. Today it is the turn of Maurits Cornelis Escher, the amazing Dutch artist who was able to “play” with space like no one else has. And, on second thoughts, Suspiria, Dario Argento’s cinematographic masterpiece, largely permeated by Escher’s art, is still just around the corner.
These bruschettas are not only gluten free and vegan – they are easy to make and quite cheap too.
These are the three reasons why we conceived them and how we came up with their name:
- Although few ingredients are needed to make them, they are good beyond measure (“space”, as a matter of fact);
- The word “space” recalls, as previously pointed out, a concept very dear to Escher;
- An anecdote from the life of Escher: «Towards the end of the 1920s, Escher liked to make spring trips to Abruzzo, where he would immerse himself in nature and used to wander from village to village, keeping track of what he was doing in notes, annotations and drawings; one of the anecdotes about Escher’s 1929 trip tells that he stopped at an inn and enjoyed bruschettas».
Unfortunately, there is no detailed information on the type of bruschettas the artist tasted; however, as he was in Abruzzo, we assumed that it was the Abruzzo- type, which typically includes sausage as a topping.
We introduce a vegan version of these bruschettas, with a vegetable “ragù” made with lentils and tomatoes.
As we remind you in every article, the recipes we suggest are a personal interpretation, which you may or may not agree with, but we believe it is important to respect a person’s creative vision, in the kitchen as in other areas.
Find below the instructions for making the topping for four bruschettas.
Cooking method and time
Lentils: about 10 minutes, on the stove burner.
Tomato: about 15 minutes, on the stove burner.
Storage (cooked only)
The lentil “ragù” can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 days, in a glass container. To savour it, heat it in a non-stick pan – do not add any oil – for 5-10 minutes, depending on the quantity, over medium-low heat.
– 240 g (drained product) of boiled canned lentils (organic);
– 3-4 ripe San Marzano tomatoes;
– 4 slices bruschetta bread (gluten free);
– 1 pinch iodized salt;
– extra virgin olive oil to taste.
Caution: for people with coeliac disease, all ingredients with risk of contamination must be gluten-free certified.
Useful information before cooking
- Lentils belong to the legume category and are rich in complex carbohydrates, protein, fibre and minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and copper. They contain numerous vitamins such as retinol (A), ascorbic acid (C), thiamine (B1) and niacin (PP).
- Animal proteins include all the essential amino acids the body needs; this is not the case for most plant proteins. In order to obtain a complete vegetable protein, it is therefore essential to combine cereals (millet, rice, etc.) and legumes (broad beans, lentils, peas, beans, etc.) at mealtimes: this is because cereals, as well as vegetables, seeds and nuts, lack the amino acid lysine, while legumes, as well as vegetables and nuts, lack the amino acid methionine.
Be careful, therefore, as this food combination, together with the variety of nutrients consumed, is really essential for a healthy and responsible plant-based diet.
- Ragù is a typical Italian topping. There are two cities competing to being the place where it was born, namely Bologna and Naples. Actually, as suggested by its etymology, the origin of ragù is French and dates back to the Middle Ages; in fact, the word “ragoût”, which probably derives from “ragoûter” [“to awaken the appetite”, ed.], used to name a sort of stew made of small pieces of meat, served as a second course. The connection with the Italian world may have been determined by some historical events during the 14th century, for example when the Papal capital was moved to Avignon, or the Angevin domination in Naples.
The fact is that in Italy, ragù met pasta; it was first served separately, and then, from the 18th century on, together with pasta, but tomatoes were not introduced until the 19th century.
The “official” version of Bolognese ragù, codified in 1982, calls for the use of pork and beef in well-defined proportions, while the Neapolitan version, although it also calls for the use of both types of meat, is less standardised and has a much longer and more laborious preparation, with coarser pieces of meat.
Digitalis Purpurea™ points out that no nutritional information in this article can replace medical advice, as each individual has unique physiological characteristics which, in the event of deficiencies or illnesses, must be necessarily checked by a general practitioner or specialist.
Therefore, the information published in this article is for information purposes only and should not be regarded as medical advice, a medical prescription or any other kind of prescription.
Rinse the lentils well under cold running water. Pour the lentils and two generous trickles of extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick pasta saucepan. Mix well and then turn the heat up to medium-high: they should cook for about 8 minutes. Don’t forget to stir the lentils frequently; after the first 8 minutes, cook over a medium heat for about another 3 minutes in order to let them “dry out”.
They will be ready when they are neither too soft nor too roasted (they should not dry out too much). Turn off the heat and let them rest.
Take 3-4 ripe San Marzano tomatoes. If you don’t have them available, you can choose large perino or vine tomatoes. The compact, fleshy and not very watery pulp makes these tomatoes suitable for quick cooking; moreover, as they have few seeds, they are very quick to clean, and this considerably cuts down the preparation time of the recipe.
Remove the skin, the endocarp, the seeds, together with the watery pulp and, more generally, the vegetable water. Do this carefully so that when you eat, you don’t have to worry about seeds or anything else. Now, cut some tomato pieces from the pulp, neither too small nor too big.
Take a non-stick pan with high sides, pour the tomato, a generous tickle of extra virgin olive oil, and a pinch of iodized salt. Stir well and turn on the heat: cook on a high heat for the first 5 minutes approximately (the tomato will lose some water), and about the last 10 minutes on a low heat (to dry out the water).
If the sauce does not seem to be cooked enough, you can add a drop of cold water, and keep on cooking for a little while. In any case, the final appearance should be similar to what you see in the picture below, that is, the pieces should be dried out but not completely undone, and bright red.
Once the cooking step is over, add the tomato to the saucepan and stir until the sauce has evenly covered the lentils. Cook over medium-low heat for 5-8 minutes; again, the mixture should “dry out”, it should dry out slightly.
The “ragù” is best eaten freshly cooked, but if you need to prepare it in advance, you can leave it to rest overnight in the refrigerator. The ingredients will blend very well and the “ragù” will become even tastier.
If you choose this second option, take care not to overcook it during the preparation step, because you will finish cooking it when you are about to eat it. Heat it in a small pan – do not add oil – for 5-10 minutes, depending on the quantity, over medium-low heat.
Heat some slices of bruschetta bread in a toaster; they should not be overcooked. Instead, try to find the famous “neither too much nor too little” point; that is, a crispy crust, and a well-cooked but still soft crumb.
Now you are ready to spread a generous portion of “ragù” on the bruschetta.
It’s amazing how just three ingredients, when combined and cooked to perfection, can release so much flavour. Practically the only way to describe what you feel after the first bite is to compare them to the embrace of a long-lost loved one.
A simple, quick, tasty comfort food, the kind that makes you close your eyes and dream when you taste them.
There are countless possibilities for paying homage to Escher’s extraordinary talent, in the kitchen. So let’s read your beautiful ideas in the comments!
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