Friday, August 03, 2012

Fresh Tomato Bruchetta

Summer is in full swing. The garden plants get larger and larger. One of the squash plants has sprawled so far onto the sidewalk that it's hard to get by without stepping on leaves.

The wild flowers have joined up with the rose bush on the other side of the garden path...meaning the path is impossible to see. I waded in there today and discovered a hidden zucchini that wins the prize for this season's baseball bat squash. Today I was also able to take Grandma L a fresh Mule Team tomato, a nice cucumber, and three zucchini; one green and two yellow. The folks at the gym will probably soon tire of our thrice weekly gift of more of that same squash and we are eating it at least three times a week ourselves. Good thing we like squash!

The tomatoes are finally ripening so expect to see recipes using them for a while. Bruchetta is one of the things I only make when the tomatoes come in. This is truly a seasonal treat. Fresh, vine ripened tomatoes and good quality olive oil can make this sublime. If you must make these out of season, use the best quality, ripest tomatoes you can find, even if you have to spend a little more for them. You can also use other toppings than tomato. Cannelli beans (warmed) mixed with some sage and lemon zest and maybe a little more garlic is delicious. Bitter greens can be wilted and seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil and piled on the toasts.

The base for these beauties should be a flavorful, firm bread. Baguettes work well if sliced at an angle so there is more real estate for the toppings. Sweetie brought an Acme baguette back when he went to Berkeley, so I used some of that, sliced in half lengthwise and then into pieces. Country breads work well as long as there are no large holes (unless you don't mind drippy bruchettas). Traditionally the bread is grilled, but I did mine in the toaster oven and that worked fine. Usually olive oil goes on the bread, sometimes only brushed on one side, but I just mixed some oil into my tomato topping, along with the garlic. Not traditional, but the flavors are still there and the tomatoes just sparkle with their light coat of shiny oil.

Although the toasts can be made in advance, the topping should only be added right before you serve these. That way you keep the crisp texture of the toasts, which contrast so well with the juicy, soft, aromatic tomato bits, the pungent garlic and olive oil and the fragrance of fresh basil which is a harbinger of good summer eating. Make more than you think you will need...these are always a hit!

Bruchetta for Two

4-6 thin slices flavorful, firm bread
1 medium to large fresh, ripe tomato
1 tablespoon best quality olive oil
1 clove garlic
3-4 leaves fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Toast the bread slices to a golden brown color. If possible, use a grill to toast them.

Chop the tomato into very small dice and place in a medium bowl, keeping as much tomato juice as possible with the tomatoes. Add the olive oil, mince the garlic and add, finely chop the basil and add it to the bowl.

Stir the tomato, oil, garlic and basil together. When you are ready to serve the bruchetta, warm the toasts, place them on the serving platter and top with 1/4 of the tomato mixture. If you have a few tiny basil leaves you can garnish the bruchetta with them. Add salt and pepper to taste...although you may not need any. Serve at once.

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