I went to the farmer's market yesterday morning and found some really nice tomatoes. They were from Texas, but that was as close as I could get to "home grown" this early in the season. I was in the mood for a late night snack last night and the tomatoes sounded good so I decided to make bruschetta to take advantage of the fresh flavor.
Generically speaking, bruschetta is simply toasted bread, seasoned with olive oil and herbs, topped with tomato and cheese. It can be prepared on the grill or in the oven. Here's how I made this batch in a toaster oven.
- French Bread
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
- Herb Seasoning Blend*
- Fresh Tomato*
- Hard Cheese*
- Avocado (optional, but yummy!)
- Balsamic Vinegar*
- Slice French bread about 3/4 inch thick, and place on foil-lined toaster oven baking sheet. Coat both sides with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with herb seasoning.
- Toast at about 300°-325° just until tops start to turn golden brown then turn & toast the other side. (In a toaster oven close to the heat source this will just take 5 minutes or so.)
- When both sides are golden place slices of tomato on top of each slice of toast and sprinkle with more herbs. Top with grated hard cheese and return to the oven until cheese is melted.
- Remove from toaster oven and top with slices of avocado.
- Pour a thin layer of balsamic vinegar on serving plate and place bruschetta on the plate in the vinegar.
- Dig in.
- To coat with extra virgin olive oil* pour the oil in a small condiment bowl and use a pastry brush to paint with oil. An easier way is to keep oil in a spritzer bottle and spray it on the bread slices. The spritz method also lets you use less oil if you're concerned about counting fat grams.
- Basil is the herb* most frequently found in bruschetta recipes. Top tomato slices with fresh basil leaves or sprinkle with dried basil if you don't have a favorite herb blend you want to use. I've created my own herb mix, Janz Seasoning Blend, that I use on practically everything. Basil is one of the prominent flavors in this blend.
- Some bruschetta recipes call for chopped tomatoes*. However I prefer slices so I don't lose any when I eat it. It much neater to eat if you don't have to worry about the tomatoes falling off when you take a bite.
- I have a cheese grater that I fill with chunks of Parmesan, Asiago and Romano* cheeses. When I fill the grater with different cheeses I automatically get a cheese blend when I use it. Another cheese option is to slice thin slivers of Feta on top of tomatoes.
By the way, cheese is the reason I line the baking sheet with foil. Small bits of baked cheese can be hard to clean. A foil liner can be tossed. Rinse the baking sheet and you're done.
- In the past, I have "drizzled" balsamic vinegar* on the top of each piece prior to serving, but found it hard to "drizzle" and frequently ended up pouring vinegar over each piece. This obviously makes the toast soggy and the flavor can be overwhelming. Plan B has been to pour a bit of balsamic vinegar in a condiment bowl and serve it on the side for dipping. Last night it occurred to me to pour the vinegar on the serving plate before I pulled the toast from the oven. I placed the toast on the thin puddle on the plate and the bottom 1/8th inch of the toast soaked up the vinegar, just enough to provide flavor in every bite without making the toast soggy.
As I wrote this I looked up recipes for bruschetta and found some alternatives with white beans or prosciutto. I'll give those variations a try and share the results sometime soon.