Bruschetta

As you may have learned from previous posts,I’mnot a huge fan of raw tomatoes and I don’tgenerallymake them the focus of any recipe or meal. Unless I’m makingbruschetta – a delicious blend of tomatoes, garlic, and basil all on olive oil-soaked bread.

Growing up in Italy, I know firsthand that bruschetta (pronounced broo-sket-ah) isastapleon most dinner tables, especially in restaurants. It’s also a verypopular appetizer here in the United States.The best thing about it is how fast and easy it is to make. Unannounced dinner guests make a surprise visit? Get invited to a Friday night happy hour? No problem. Below is a step-by-step guide for thisdelicious go-to dish.

Bruschettais usuallybest in the summer during the peak of tomato season, but it can be madeall year long. In fact, most of the ingredients can be found in your pantry.

The cast of characters:

First, wash the tomatoes and slice them into half-inch slices. I used three medium tomatoes for this recipe.

Next,proceed to dice your tomato slices. The size of dice is up to you, but I prefer a fairly small dice because I think it presentsbetter in the final product.

This step can get messy very quickly, so I would suggest working with a kitchen towel or paper towel close by to sop up all of the extra tomato juice.

Put your tomatoes in a bowl to mix with the rest of the ingredients.

Take two garlic cloves and smash them with the broad side of your knife to get the peel off (and to make them easier to mince).

Mince the garlic as fine as you can. This dish is completely raw and most people prefer not to bite into a huge chunk of raw garlic.

Of course, if you have a garlic press, it makes the process muchquicker.Regardless of how you get it to this state, fresh minced garlic is best. So fragrant and delicious!<a href=" title="Bruschetta17" />

Add the garlic to the tomatoes.

Add in a couple tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil. In most instances I wouldn’t push using higher grade oil, but in this case (as with salad dressings) the oil is not being heated so needs to have the best, fruitiest taste as possible.

Next, add a scant (a little less than atablespoon) of balsamic vinegar.

Now, add the basil. Sadly, the extreme heat has proven detrimental to my fresh basil and the grocery store was completely depleted so I had to improvise and use dried basil. If you’reusing dried, use half the amount of fresh. The good thing is that it still tastes delicious and is very pantry friendly!<a href=" title="Bruschetta9" />

Add a generous amount of salt and pepper. I find that a lot of times when I get bruschetta at a restaurant it doesn’t have enough salt. Don’t make that mistake. Remember to season well and don’t be afraid to taste your food as you go.

Stir the mixture together and let it sitto let all the flavors blend.

For the bread I used a classic French baguette. I think the size is perfect for an appetizer dish. Slice the bread into half-inch pieces on a bias with aserratedknife. A serrated knife is a good tool to have since it is best for slicing things like bread and tomatoes that a regular knife would crush. A serrated knife is the one that looks like it has little teeth – like a saw.

Lay the bread out on a baking sheet and brush each with some olive oil. I used a garlic and rosemary infused oil that I made by steeping some fresh rosemary and crushed garlic cloves in oil over low heat for about 20minutes.

Flip the bread slices over and brush the other sides with olive oil as well.

Pop the bread into the oven with the broiler preheated. After two minutes flip the bread and return it to the oven/broiler. Make sure not to go too far away; food can go from perfect to burned beyond recognition in a matter of seconds whenever the broiler is involved.

After another two minutes, pull the bread to see if it is toasted enough. I flipped the bread again and put it back in for another minute or two before I got my desired color. You want them to look like the picture below. If you don’t feel like bruschetta, this crostini (bite-size toasted bread) is a prefect vessel for anything that tastes good on crispy, garlicky bread. Hummus comes to mind!<a href=" title="Bruschetta5" />

The final step is to top that delicious golden brown bread with your equallyscrumptioustomato mixture.

If you do take these to a party, transport the bread and tomatoes separately and assemble once you get to your destination. No one wants soggy bruschetta!<a href=" title="Bruschetta1" />

How delicious does that look? You need to try these, trust me – they’re that good!

Enjoy!

Sous Chef

Bruschetta (makes 12)

French baguette, 1/2 loaf

3 medium tomatoes

2 garlic cloves

2-3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 tbs fresh basil (1/2 tbs dried)

salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat your broiler.

Dice the tomatoes into a medium-small dice and place in a mixing bowl. Mince the garlic and add it to the tomatoes. Add in the olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. Taste to adjust seasoning. Set aside.

Slice the baguette on the diagonal into half-inch slices. Place on a baking sheet and brush both sides with garlic oil. Place under the broiler for two minutes then remove from the broiler, flip the bread and place it back under the broiler for an additional two minutes. Keep flipping and checking on the bread until the desired color is reached.

Spoon tomato mixture onto bread and enjoy.

Garlic & Rosemary Infused Oil

1 cup olive oil

2-3 rosemary sprigs

2 garlic cloves, smashed

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat over low heat for 20 minutes until oil becomes fragrant. Use for anything that calls for olive oil.

Note: Do not remove the rosemary leaves from the stem and keep the garlic in big pieces for easy removal.

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