We know this is supposed to be an appetizer, but it is also fantastic as a light supper. We strongly recommend opening a nice bottle of Chianti, use it in cooking the mushrooms, and serving the remainder with the bruschette and a green salad. You can substitute other kinds of mushrooms (such as enoki, stemmed shiitake caps, and oyster) for the cremini, or use an assortment.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- Two 3-inch sprigs fresh thyme
- Two 3-inch sprigs fresh nipitella or mint
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ cup hearty reed wine, such as Chianti
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 wide slices crusty Italian bread, about 8 inches across
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove peeled (optional)
- 1 cup (about 4 ounces) shredded Fontina d’Aosta cheese
- 8 fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish
- Position a broiler rack about 6 inches from the source of heat and preheat the broiler on high.
- To make the mushrooms: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, thyme, and niptiella cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms give off their juices and begin to brown, about 6 minutes. Stir in the shallot and garlic cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and boil until is has almost completely reduced, about 2 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
- Drizzle the bread with the olive oil. Toast the bread on one side in the grill or broiler, about 1 minute. If desired, rub the toasted side of the bread with the garlic clove. Turn the bread. Divide the Fontina evenly over the bread. Continue cooking until the cheese is melted and the exposed crust is toasted, about 1 minute more.
- Discard the thyme and nipitella. Transfer the bread to a cutting board. Top with equal amounts of the mushrooms. Cut each in half vertically to make 8 pieces and top each with a sprig of thyme. Serve immediately, with a fork and knife.