Yup, we’re going to do the cooking thing now.
I don’t talk about it much on here, but in the past year or so I’ve gotten really into cooking. I’m still not very advanced but I do really enjoy the process (and the end results). I mostly focus on simple and healthy dishes (although I also make a mean chocolate chip cookie- Mike can tell you).
I have written a lot about my love of exploring food around the world and it dawns on me that an important component of that exploration is COOKING food around the world. Which honestly, doesn’t have to be that hard.
Seriously- if I can make it- you can make it. I was once nick-names Rambo because of my uncanny ability to burn stuff.
So for my first cooking post I’m excited to present the exceptionally easy, yet exceptionally tasty Italian Bruschetta. The perfect warm-weather appetizer or light lunch.
The most important thing to know about Bruschetta is that it’s pronounced bru-SKETT-a, NOT Bru sche-ta. Bruschetta at it’s most basic means toasted bread. If you order plain bruschetta in Italy, that is what you’ll end up with.
The biggest difference with real Italian bruschetta? The garlic is rubbed into the bread, not chopped into the toppings- this infuses the whole thing with garlic-y goodness but doesn’t overpower (if you’re a garlic fiend you could do both). The olive oil is baked into the bread as well, not poured on top.
You could top it with so many different things, but in this case we’ll go for the most well known and super delicious tomato and basil version. Because it’s perfect.
The key to the most awesome bruschetta ever is the best, freshest ingredients you can find- top quality olive oil, fresh basil and seriously kickass tomatoes. The best tomatoes you can find.I used vine ripened tomatoes from Trader Joes but this would be great with heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes or any really good, juicy looking farmer’s market tomatoes. Stay away from those flavorless hot house supermarket things though- they are just pale imitations of real tomatoes.
We took our bruschetta up a notch and added some of our authentic balsamic vinegar which was heavenly. So here’s the recipe, half taken from what I learned about bruschetta in Rome and half adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything:
Loaf of fresh bread (French will work but a hearty Italian is better)
1 cup diced tomatoes
¼ cup fresh basil
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
Salt and pepper
Makes 4 slices.
Turn on your broiler. Move the rack in the oven so that it’s directly underneath the top.
Cut your load of bread into thick slices (about 1 inch thick- any less than that and they’ll burn). We’re just using 4 but you can make more if you want. Brush olive oil on each side, then place on a baking pan under the broiler for 1-3 minutes. Watch carefully- it’s a thin line between toasty and charred! Once they look appropriately browned and delicious remove from oven.
Peel a clove of garlic and rub it against the top side of the toasted bread, almost like you are grating it.
Throw the diced tomatoes into a bowl along with any juices that spill out. Slice basil thinly and mix into the bowl along with a little salt and pepper. You can add some chopped garlic too if you’re into that.
Heap tomato mixture onto the warm bread. Add balsamic vinegar if desired.