Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Do you ever see a food item on TV, in a movie or flipping through a magazine and it looks so good that you just HAVE to make it? I was watching Julie & Julia a few nights ago and the scene where Julie is making bruschetta instantly started my stomach rumbling. Aside from the luscious looking tomatoes, what really interested me was the way she was preparing the bread. Instead of toasting it in the oven, she was browning it in a pan with oil. I probably wouldn't have thought of that on my own, but wow, did it ever look amazing!

I headed to the kitchen to gather my ingredients and get down to business. Over the years, I have perfected my tomato and shallot bruschetta recipe, so I decided used that for the topping and just wing it with the bread. It's bread, so it can't be that hard, right? Lucky for me, I joined a CSA this year, which meant that I received massive quantities of amazing heirloom tomatoes. Tomatoes are my favorite summer food, hands down. Anything that brings out the bright acidic and fruity flavors of a perfectly ripe tomato is heaven to me. And really, is there any better use for tomatoes than a good bruschetta?

Here's the rundown:
  • Flavor/Texture: A-MAZ-ING, if I do say so myself. The juicy sweetness of the tomato topping paired really nicely with the crunchy, garlicky bread. The bread soaked up the tomato liquid without being soggy. Perfection!
  • Difficulty: Very easy and looks impressive.
  • Pros: No fancy ingredients or techniques necessary. Everything comes together quickly. The tomato mixture is even better the next day. Since everything is fresh and there are very few ingredients, it's also a healthy dish.
  • Cons: The bread does not keep well, so if you have tomatoes left over, just do a new batch of bread each day.
  • Misc: Make sure you seed the tomatoes, otherwise you'll end up with far too much liquid and things will get soggy. You can substitute red onion for the shallot, if necessary. The bruschetta is good enough to eat on its own for dinner, but if you want to beef it up a bit, add a smear of ricotta cheese to the bread before putting the tomato mixture on. Any kind of tomatoes will work, but a mix of different varieties and colors looks pretty and adds some depth to the flavor.
  • Repeat Performance: In my kitchen, it's already in heavy rotation during the summer months.
Jami's Tomato and Shallot Bruschetta

3 large heirloom tomatoes - seeded and chopped (about 2 cups)
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 loaf of chewy, crusty bread (sourdough, baguette, ciabatta or focaccia all work well)

Combine tomatoes, shallots, 1 TBSP olive oil, basil and vinegar in a medium bowl. Stir to combine and season with salt to taste. Cover and let stand at room temp for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.

Over medium heat, add 2 TBSP olive oil to a pan. While pan is heating up, cut your bread into 1/2 inch thick slices. When the oil is shimmering, add the bread to the pan. Brown on each side for 1-2 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Add more oil to the pan between batches, if necessary. Remove bread to plate lined with paper towels to drain. While the bread is still hot, rub the cloves of garlic over it.

Top each slice of bread with a generous amount of the tomato mixture, including the juices. Serve immediately.