Tomatoes have started to make their appearance here in South Texas, and I couldn’t be happier. To me, the first bruschetta of the season is what really kicks off the summer. I picked up the tomatoes and basil (I bought a pot of basil for $4. It’s a steal if I don’t kill it before next week, which, given my very black thumb, might actually happen.) at the Pearl Brewery farmer’s market, and the garlic comes from Greenling.
Bruschetta was one of the very first things that I learned how to make. I think my original version came from my mom’s Silver Palate cookbook, but now, it’s sort of a taste-as-I-go kind of thing.
Most people eat it as a topping for crostini, but I eat mine as a side with dinner. It’s a salad, but the vinegar ensures that it holds up to even the heartiest of meats.
- 1 pint of tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes that I quartered this time, but any ripe tomato will do. If you’re using whole tomatoes, remove some of the juice and seeds before chopping them up.)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced finely (After tasting it, I actually added another clove for a total of 4. I’m a bit of a fiend for garlic though.)
- 1 shallot, minced finely
- 6 large basil leaves, chiffonade(d?) (To chiffonade, just stack up the leaves, roll them up, and mince. It looks like long strings of basil when you’re finished.)
- 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
- 1/2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- (Lots of) salt and pepper, to taste
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust as needed. Let sit for at least 30 minutes before eating.
Like I said, I could (and do) eat this with a spoon — no crostini necessary. Do be liberal with the salt; tomatoes are one of those foods that is made so much better with the addition of good kosher salt. These classic flavors compliment a variety of dishes. I served this alongside rack of lamb, but I’m planning on eating the leftovers with some pasta for lunch this week.