Tomato-Basil Bruschetta (Taste of Summer Menu: Part I)

IMG_1147There are definitely days when summer seems endless. Sunny mornings and sweltering afternoons, heat waves and violent thunderstorms — so much joy and drama all in one deceptively long season. Personally, summer seems endless when I’m standing over a pot of pureed tomatoes, simmering them down into a sauce whilst it’s nearing 85 degrees in my kitchen. A balmy 85 degrees that feels more like 95 degrees when taking the humidity created by several boiling pots into account! Sigh… it’s a love-hate relationship, I suppose. Like many ill-fated love affairs, summer’s days are far from endless. They are numbered even now.

With all of this laboring in the garden and all of this striving to preserve foods for later, it’s hard to take a step back and enjoy summer right now — in the present. It’s hard to find time to pause and embrace it, but I was determined not to let summer slip past me!

We just got back from our annual peach picking in Michigan which is inevitably followed by a “festival” that I call Peach Madness. IMG_1106Peach Madness is the fallout of having 75 pounds or more of peaches in your home, hearing their little clocks ticking, and knowing you have precious little time to eat them, freeze them, or otherwise preserve them before they turn into furry, black, moldy lumps all over your house. It’s the very definition of madness — little balls of summery goodness everywhere!

Last summer’s Peach Madness found me raising my head up from a gigantic pile of peach pits only to find the leaves were turning already! Where did summer go?! So, this year, after we returned from picking and before we allowed the madness to begin, James and I cooked up the idea for a “Taste of Summer” menu to highlight all of the tastes that can only be enjoyed fresh once each year. We decided — before we gave in fully to Peach Madness’ hours and hours of blanching, peeling, slicing, canning, jamming, freezing — we would celebrate summer in our favorite way: with a feast fit for kings!

I’d like to share with you the recipes for our “Taste of Summer” Menu. The recipe for the cocktail was a brilliant find of James’ by doing a search online for “peachy drinks”. You can find the recipe here. It’s a very interesting blend of flavors. We were apprehensive about pairing rosemary with peaches, but it worked in a way you’ll have to try in order to believe.

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I developed today’s recipe over the course of several summers — changing ingredients around, deciding what I thought worked best. You’ll find different versions of bruschetta in almost any Italian restaurant you happen to walk into. All of these versions have two very important things in common: 1) they involve lots of tomatoes; 2) they’re delicious!

My version is simple to put together and uses ingredients that you probably have on-hand — especially in summertime. Bruschetta begs for improvisation, so feel free to add more or less of something if it suits you.

Tomato-Basil Bruschetta
Serves 8-10 (as an appetizer)

    2 pounds tomatoes, seeded & diced
    4 large garlic cloves, minced or sliced thinly
    2 tablespoons diced red onion
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh)
    1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh)
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped
    2 small whole wheat baguettes

    Combine the tomatoes, garlic, onion, salt, herbs, olive oil, black pepper, and cheese in a large bowl. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

    Meanwhile, slice baguettes diagonally. Toast in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes or until browned and toasted. (For an extra thrill, before toasting you can butter the slices and sprinkle with garlic powder or spread with a garlic-infused olive oil.)

    Top toasts with the tomato mixture; serve immediately.

This year, we had the exquisite pleasure of using our own homegrown tomatoes! We used a few of each variety from the garden to create a unique tomato blend. I personally prefer the pungent kick of dried herbs for this dish, but it’s certainly more summery if you choose to use fresh herbs. If you can’t find fresh mozzarella, a grated Italian cheese blend would also work well. If using a shredded cheese, you may want to add it as a topping rather than mixing it into the tomato mixture.

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If you’re doing the math on your fingers, there were three of us for dinner, that evening and — yes — I made this full recipe. I’m not really sure what I was thinking but there weren’t many leftovers, suffice it to say! Come back tomorrow for the main course of our “Taste of Summer” Menu.

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~ by Jason on August 17, 2010.

4 Responses to “Tomato-Basil Bruschetta (Taste of Summer Menu: Part I)”

  1. […] Pills | Healthy Liferecipe: Pork Loin With a Peach Tomato Mash | Dr. Salerno – The …Tomato-Basil Bruschetta (Taste of Summer Menu: Part I) Tales of …Salmon with Corn and Tomato Relish […]

  2. […] already read about the Tomato-Basil Bruschetta we served as an appetizer. Very little cooking, there: after making toast, the rest was a heady mix […]

  3. Fresh basil is essential to a good bruschetta, in my view. If you have not tried the recipe from Caprial Pence, you should. It uses fresh basil and in addition to olive oil, balsamic vinegar. Of course home grown summer tomatoes, fresh picked basil, and high quality oil and vinegar are critical. Plum tomatoes are ideal since they have less juice and do not “water down” the mixture.

    • I could go either way on fresh basil in bruschetta, myself. I’ve even been known to include both fresh AND dried basil for extra kick. I also like bruschetta with or without balsamic vinegar — both are such different and yet pleasant tastes, it’d be hard for me to choose. I guess I’ve never really had BAD bruschetta! 😀

      As for the tomato varieties used, plum tomatoes are pulpier by nature, but — if you remove the seeds from most any other variety (including heirlooms) — you can usually have a non-watery topping for bruschetta no matter which variety you choose. This is a plus since many of the heirloom varieties have such strikingly different tastes that they can make for several different bruschetta variations.

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