Summer’s Simple Pleasures: Bruschetta

July 17, 2012


I’m not sure if it’s the “heat”, the lazy lull of summer, or years of actually living somewhere hot and humid that makes me want to kick back and nosh on something simple for dinner. This time of year I’m very apt to make a meal out of caprese salad or proscuitto and melon. No cooking, no oven, just a couple of ingredients sliced and plated, and best served with a glass of wine.

To that end, when someone suggested bruschetta to me late last week, it immediately grabbed hold of that place in my brain that stores my cravings and didn’t let go. What could be simpler? While I did have to fire up the grill (gas, this time, to keep things simple), there wasn’t much more effort needed.

The garden has been producing plenty of yellow taxi tomatoes, and this weekend the first of the Cherokee purple began to ripen. It was bruschetta time!

Tomatoes and squash
Yellow taxi tomatoes, Cherokee purple tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, duck squash, and a bit o’ corn made up one evening’s bounty

I had picked up a parbaked baguette at the grocery store earlier in the day. I prefer these if I can find them, as it keeps my bread from becoming too crisp when I use it for panini, garlic bread, or in this case, bruschetta. It isn’t necessary to pick up a parbaked baguette, but since they had it, that’s what I grabbed.

I warmed up the grill and stepped inside with my tomatoes and a few sprigs of basil. After a quick rinse of the tomatoes, I sliced them up, seeding them along the way, and then tossing the cubes with shreds of basil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. In all, I had about 2 1/2 cups of tomato/basil mixture.

Onto the bread. The baguette was sliced thin, around 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. I grabbed a serving plate, sitting the bread on it, along with the bowl of tomatoes with a tablespoon, a clove of garlic peeled and halved, and a quarter cup scantly filled with olive oil. Outside I went to spend the rest of my evening.

Making the bruschetta is easy. Place the sliced baguette on the hot grill. Grill one side and turn. Grill the other side. Take care not to burn the bread. After the first turn, to keep myself from fussing with the bread, checking it every 5 seconds to see if it is ready yet, I rub the tops of the bread with the cut side of the garlic clove. As I pull each piece of bread off the grill and place it on the plate, I rub the other side with the garlic clove. Double hints of garlic. Yum!

Drizzle most of the olive oil across the bread, then top with the tomato mixture. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the topped bruschetta. My Cherokee purple tomatoes had a bit of juice in the bottom of the bowl, so I drizzled that over as well.

Enjoy! While using two types of tomatoes here meant I had to dirty two bowls (if I wanted to separate them), I enjoyed the color contrast the little bit of yellow gave the plate. Plus this is a great way to taste the subtle differences in the different types of tomatoes. The Cherokee purple’s not only looked beautiful, like little jewels of fresh ahi, but they had a much more concentrated tomato flavor than the yellow taxi tomatoes, which I might not have appreciated as much without the side-by-side comparison.

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