Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tomato Bruschetta

With the last of this year's tomatoes in stores and at farm stands now, I wanted to share this absolutely amazing way to enjoy them. This requires some chopping of the tomatoes, but the rest is just a waiting game for the flavors to blend.

Besides on garlic toasts, pita or bagel chips and bread, this tomato bruschetta makes a great cold pasta sauce -- toss with hot bowties or other short pasta for a quick and easy room temp pasta dish. Chill for pasta salad. Add slices of grilled chicken or pre-cooked chicken strips for a main dish. This is the perfect starter for that last barbecue for those of you up north and perfect all-year-round for those of lucky enough to live in the Sunshine State (except during hurricane season!).

Note: I like to make this with fresh herbs but they don't always look great and can cost a fortune, so dried are FINE. Just make sure to buy as small a quantity as possible so they get used before they lose their flavor. You might as well mow your yard and throw the clippings into your food at that point!
To make three cups or so bruschetta:
  • 10 Roma (plum) tomatoes. Use about 2 1/2 pounds other tomatoes if you can't get Romas or others look better.
  • 3 green onions, sliced -- dark green parts too!
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced, or 1 tablespoon jarred
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves or 2 tablespoons fresh leaves, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • A pinch dried chile flakes (pepperoncini)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil - the best you can get

Rinse the tomatoes and chop them. Try to get as much of the seeds and glop (that's the technical term!) out of them as possible. Put tomatoes in a glass or plastic bowl - NO metal! -- with the rest of the ingredients. Toss to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes, covered, at room temperature. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste. Let sit another 30 minutes at room temp if serving soon; if not refrigerate until serving time -- overnight is best!

  • Add five or six marinated artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
  • Add a roasted red pepper, diced
  • Omit garlic and add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
To make homemade pita chips:
Cut pita breads into 8 triangles with scissors. For thick chips, leave alone. For thin ones, separate each triangle into two pieces.

Spread chips in a single layer and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Sprinkle with garlic powder and other herbs as desired (Italian seasoning blend, basil, oregano and rosemary are all good!). Bake at 425 for about 5 minutes or until desired crispness. Let cool and store in gallon sized plastic bags.

FYI, in the north and central parts of Italy, ordering bruschetta will get you grilled bread rubbed with a clove of garlic. The tomato version we are familiar with is unknown there!

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