Murphy’s Law always strikes in autumn: as soon as tomato season is over, I crave my favorite tomato dishes. Granted, there are still cherry tomatoes and green tomatoes at the farmers’ market. What I’m craving, though, are meaty, red heirloom tomatoes. Fleshy, ripe, summery tomatoes. In particular, I’ve really been craving bruschetta. Little is better than that combination of garlic, basil, bread, and tomatoes. Fortunately, I discovered the little packages of Campari and Amarosa tomatoes at the grocer. Larger than cherry tomatoes and smaller than the standard hothouse tomatoes-on-the-vine – these always taste like tomatoes and never have that sugary texture I hate. In a pinch, they’ll do.
This bruschetta is terribly easy to make; you can pull it off in 15 minutes or so. You can also make the bread topping well ahead of your meal, and then toast up the bread right before assembling and serving.
- 16 oz Campari or Amarosa tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic, 2 minced and one left whole
- 2 T basil, chiffonade
- extra virgin olive oil
- juice of half a lemon
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- a good baguette or loaf of French bread
Seed and chop the tomatoes and add to a non-reactive bowl. Add the basil and the garlic, and stir to combine. Dress this with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the lemon juice. Season with sea salt and a few grinds of pepper. Give this topping a taste and adjust the seasonings or oil/lemon ratio as needed. At this point, you can let this rest while you prepare the rest of your meal or have a glass of wine. Or, you can get on with the toasting. Slice your loaf of bread into pieces about a half inch thick. Drizzle a medium skillet with a small amount of olive oil. I like to use the heel of the bread to then wipe the pan with the oil, or you can use a kitchen towel. Heat the oil over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, work in batches to toast the bread. Lay slices of the bread in the pan in a single layer and lightly toast them on one side. Check carefully to make sure they don’t burn, but you want them to take on a golden color. After the first batch, add a bit more oil to the pan and wipe the pan to distribute the oil again. Repeat this process until all your bread is toasted. Let the bread cool a bit and get crusty, then take the whole garlic clove and lightly scrape it over the toasted side of the bread. Just before serving, use a slotted spoon to top the bread with the tomato mixture. Serve with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for drizzling. Garnish with whole basil leaves.
Serves 4 as an appetizer.
This one’s worth a repeat viewing: