Tomato Fest: Versatile Bruschetta Variations on a Theme
One of the things I learned to make and adore with my recent plea asking “What to Do With a Lot of Basil” (if you saw that post) is a versatile mash up of tomatoes, basil, garlic and some sort of vinegar and oil.
I had read Jennifer Murch’s swoony serenade to bruschetta, and checked the Simply in Season recipes for Greek Tomato Salad and for bruschetta (p. 102 and 172 in the original edition respectively, and also included in the new 10th anniversary expanded edition). Technically, Wikipedia says bruschetta is an antipasto (appetizer) from Italy consisting of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and usually topped with olive oil and salt.
When I made Jennifer’s version, I did not have any balsamic vinegar so I used plain old apple cider vinegar. I also used about twice as much basil because, well, you know, I wanted to use my plentiful supply. It was splendid and I plunked it on half a Torta roll (Costco) with fresh mozzarella. I took the extra to the office with some tortilla scoopers because, well, you know, that’s where you get rid of things. There were raves there as well (would the office lie?).
My youngest daughter was home last weekend so I made another batch of bruschetta-y stuff while she gathered and washed bunches of basil to make into pesto. She couldn’t believe how much basil was out there—like a CROP—half a garden row, not just a plant or two.
I bought balsamic vinegar for my new batch and still used about twice as much minced basil as the recipe called for. We had more bruschetta on Torta rolls.
It was also excellent and I took it the next day to the church picnic with green peppers for scoopers and other fresh garden veggies.
Finally, I used up the rest mixing it with fresh but leftover cut-off-the-cob corn, and hunks of barbecue chicken for a quick lunch. That was tangy but I would say the spices of the barbecue chicken (made with oil, vinegar, and lots of Pete sauce) competed just a little with the spices of the bruschetta mix. I’d guess using plain old hunks of sautéed or roasted chicken leftovers would be perfect.
And that is some of what I’ve done with the basil! It survived a round of Japanese beetles and keeps on coming. Guess I finally need to freeze some, using the method Carmen Wyse describes in my Whatever Happened to Dinner book. Carmen and her partner-in-crime Jodi Nisly Hertzler, food editors for that book, Jennifer Murch, my daughters, and great cooks among my many nieces and nephews have introduced me and others of my generation to some wonderful “gut” (like they say in Pennsylvania Dutch) flavors and dishes. My mouth will never be the same!
My variation for bruschetta type topping, or you might also call this a salsa without hot or green peppers:
Bruschetta topping or tomato/basil salsa
4 cups tomatoes, chopped
2 cups minced fresh basil (or less as you wish)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon salt, or less
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Combine tomatoes, basil, and minced garlic. Mix oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour over tomato/basil/garlic mixture. Cover and let it sit at room temperature for one hour. Will keep refrigerated several days (3-5) and you can add chopped tomatoes to freshen.
Place on French or Italian bread slices that you’ve toasted or grilled in a skillet drizzled with olive oil. Or prepare the way I do garlic bread: toast slices covered with butter and garlic powder under broiler. See also Jennifer’s directions on toasting with olive oil. Or use as a salsa dip or whatever.
You can buy the new expanded, with recipe photos, Simply in Season here.
Or to sample what’s in the cookbook, download the PDF Sampler here!
Or, what’s your favorite recipe using lots of tomatoes from this now classic and well-loved best seller?