I’m a huge fan of bruschetta. I’m also pretty reckless. To that end, I bought some tomatoes last week (yes, even in the midst of that salmonella scare) and decided that a tasty snack was probably worth the trouble.
Technically, the bread part of bruschetta is supposed to be grilled. I opted to make mine crunchy by allowing it to sit out for a day, then toasting in the oven. I’m okay with that, but feel free to grill yours. Plus, if we’re getting into proper bruschetta technique, it’s also supposed to be served fresh, but I ate half the batch and stored the rest in the fridge (to marinate?) for a few days, and I liked it better the second time.
And so…bruschetta, sort of:
You’ll notice that the slices of bread in the photograph are quite light. This was out of caution. I was trying to do too many things at once, and neglected the first batch until I smelled something burning. The resulting char made me go a little on the light end when toasting the second batch. They’re still pretty crunchy, just not very brown.
Bruschetta, Sort Of
1 loaf day-old French bread (or Italian, whatever you like)
2 large tomatoes
1 package of fresh basil (8 oz)
week-old red wine (mine was a Shiraz-Cabernet blend)
fresh ground pepper
Chop the tomatoes and basil, and place in a medium-sized bowl.
This is where things are a little bit inexact – hence I didn’t list complete measurements. You’re going to want to eyeball the amounts on this part. Add a few shakes each (< 1 tsp) of fresh ground pepper, garlic powder, and onion salt. Pour a couple of glugs each (approximately 3-4 tbsp) of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and red wine into the bowl, and stir gently to incorporate the spices, liquid, tomatoes, and basil. I used some week-old Shiraz-Cab that had been sitting out on my counter (again, it was used for something else but then set aside because I didn’t want to waste the rest). Cover the bowl in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator. I let mine hang out in the fridge for a few days, but the tomatoes and basil should soak up the flavorings within a matter of hours.
Let the loaf of bread sit out for a day or so, until it’s crunchy. Fresh bread will work as well, but will be slightly more annoying to slice because of its softness. Slice the bread into inch-thick slices. Lightly brush the center of each slice with olive oil, top with a tablespoon or two of the tomato-basil mixture, and toast in the oven for a few minutes. I made the mistake of severely burning the first batch of bread, to the point that I thought my kitchen was on fire, so the second batch was toasted very lightly. I took mine out of the oven before it was even browned, but you can toast it longer.
Optional: top with mozzarella cheese. The slices in the picture above are not topped with cheese, but that’s because they photographed better without.
I added the wine on a random impulse, but I like how it worked with the other flavors, and will probably keep using red wine in future batches of bruschetta.
A final note: Letting the tomatoes and basil marinate in the wine/vinegar/oil/spices did wonders for the flavor, but not much for the presentation. If you want pretty, green, fresh-looking basil and bright red tomatoes, this isn’t the recipe to go with.