Sunday, August 10, 2014

Summer means mouth-watering bruschetta

So, I may have mentioned that tomatoes are in season here, and that our garden is finally (after a couple of unsuccessful years) producing a decent crop of this heavenly, taste-of-sunshine, fruit. Yes, tomatoes are fruit. Anyways, for the first time in years I also have a nice crop of basil growing under the tomatoes. Have you ever breathed in the aroma of fresh cut basil?? W.O.W. So what is one glorious way to combine these two summer flavors??

My Aussie sister-in-law is a vegetarian, and once when I was visiting — many moons ago — she made some fresh bruschetta. It was DE.LISH. Given there is no recipe per se, but rather a handful of ingredients, it was easy to tuck these away in the recesses of my mind to recall later — like every summer since that visit!

So, here's the list of ingredients:
  • Fresh, sun-ripe tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Generous bunch of fresh basil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
Optional extras:

  • A stick of bread (French baguette, Portuguese saloio, ciabatta ...)
  • Feta cheese
  • Fresh parsley

NOTE: 1 baguette + 2 large tomatoes + 1 onion + a handful of basil leaves fed 2 adults and one child (the other was at summer camp) as a hearty appetizer.

This can be prepared two main ways: raw or partially cooked. I make the partially cooked version, as my husband's digestive system has an aversion to raw onion.

Method 1: Raw
Dice the tomatoes and onions and toss to combine. Cut a generous bunch of basil leaves into 1/4 inch strips with kitchen shears, a sharp knife, or you can tear them. Combine with tomato & onion mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Now splash on olive oil and balsamic vinegar, tossing and tasting. Add crumbled feta cheese, and/or chopped fresh parsley, if it floats your boat! Let sit at room temperature so flavors meld.

Method 2: Partially Cooked
Dice the tomatoes and onions. Cut/tear a generous bunch of basil leaves into 1/4 inch strips. Put tomatoes & basil in a bowl and lightly toss. Saute the onions in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until translucent, but not browned. Remove from heat. Add tomato & basil to hot onions and stir until basil wilts. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Add optional extras if you want to. Splash on balsamic vinegar, and extra olive oil if you want to, but there is already some in with the onions! Toss lightly. Let sit at room temperature so flavors meld.

I believe every good bruschetta needs some freshly toasted bread to carry it, but bruschetta can also be used as a condiment for fish, chicken, and steak... however, my favorite is the finger-food variety that I can eat while watching a family movie! So, while bruschetta flavors are melding, slice bread into half-inch slices, and brush one side with olive oil. Place slices on a cookie sheet, or two, and broil until light golden brown ... watch it very closely! Flip and broil the undersides.

Pile a generous spoonful of bruschetta onto a toastie. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley if you wish. Eat. Repeat. Mmmmm ...