As of last week, when I made this Bruschetta, when I hosted a happy hour, when I blew the leaves out of the backyard, when I turned on the twinkly lights and the tiny speaker, it was still as hot as summer. I cancelled the cozy and the bonfire and called on the tomatoes—summers finest offspring. They did not disappoint.
I think this is the part in our programming when I should be massaging golden squashy pumpkin into every nook and cranny. But since I’m always late, and it seems to be also true of fall this year, we’re back on summer programming. Our co-op is still lined with beautifully sweet tomatoes, assuring me this is a perfectly acceptable recipe to post. And I’m sure if I could successfully grow a garden, it would be nodding its head in agreement too, glistening with tiny red jewels. (After a costly and lackluster try a couple years ago, I’ve decided to outsource the vegetable growing part of life to the farmers. For now at least.)
Here’s the thing about cooking with tomatoes. And cooking in general, if you ask me. You have to taste as you go, and add a little bitta this and that. Because maybe the tomatoes are extra sweet. Or maybe they’re really acidic. Or maybe they’re just a little flat all together. You’ll want to balance those flavors with their opposite, much like complimentary colors on the color wheel for optimal flavor harmony.
If they’re sweet, add a little extra vinegar (acid) to accentuate the sweetness. Then, taste again. If they’re extra acidic, scale back on the vinegar. Try adding a touch of honey. If they’re a little flat, be liberal whe n sprinkling that flaky, coarse kosher salt. But whatever you do, always go heavy-handed on the fresh basil and garlic. It’s the crux of a really good bruschetta. Wait, it’s pronounced bru’sketta. Bru’sketta, bru’sketta, bru’sketta. Maybe if I say it enough, it wont sound so funny coming out of my mouth.
Oh look, here comes fall. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
You’re going to need to add a little bitta this and that to get your bruschetta in the realm of perfect. Tomatoes vary in flavor. It’s not you, it’s them. So trust your gut and add a little extra vinegar (acid), honey, salt, and garlic as needed. This is my kind of invigorating.
5 c. finely diced, in-season cherry tomatoes
1 c. lightly packed fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. good-quality olive oil, plus more for the bread
3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
freshly cracked pepper, to taste
(optional) drizzle of honey, if needed
1–2 fresh baguettes
Make the bruschetta at least 1 hour in advance. Add all the prepared tomato base ingredients into a large bowl. Stir together and taste. Too acidic? Add a little honey. A little flat? Add a little salt. Too sweet? Add an extra glug of vinegar. Not punchy enough? More garlic. Allow the flavors to mingle and deepen for about 1 hour before serving.
Prepare the bread. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice the bread at an angle, about 1/2″ thick. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet (or two). Drizzle liberally with olive oil. Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden, turning halfway through.
Serve. Best served same day.
Leftover bruschetta is delicious served over pasta or in a chicken parmesan dish.