A staple starter in pretty much every Italian eatery, and most bar and grilles, I think bruschetta get’s over looked. It’s also really easy to make an utterly underwhelming batch; just use off-season tomatoes and dried basil instead of fresh and you will be one sad mac. Here’s how to make it right, and then you can put it on everything!
As a general note, you should shop for all your fresh ingredients at the farmers market for this dish. Good bruschetta hinges entirely on how vibrant the produce and herbs are. Get your toms, garlic, basil, and parsley from the market the day you plan on making the salsa and choose with care.
- 4 plum, ripe, in-season tomatoes
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh minced basil
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh, minced parsley
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 1/8 crushed red pepper flakes
- Combine all your ingredients and let soak and chill in the fridge for about an hour before you serve.
If you want an elegant, low-carb snack or starter …
pick up a log of fresh mozzarella and slice into small medallions. Arrange a few large basil leaves on a plate, then 3-4 medallions. Spoon the salsa over the medallions. If you have time, make a simple balsamic reduction and drizzle a little over the dish. Magnifique!
If you want classic bruschetta toast ….
cut a fresh baguette into thick slices. Spread a little butter on each slice and toast to a medium-well. Getting the slices the right thickness and level of crispy is crucial because the salsa has oil and vinegar and it really soaks through the bread. I can’t tell you how many restaurants have blown this aspect and I am left with a soggy mess and a serious case of situational depression.
I like to add a little leaf of basil to eat slice of bread before I spoon the mixture on. It adds color and a pop of freshness, plus it helps slow the pace of the bread soaking and breaking down. If you think the toast will sit awhile because you are setting it out for a gathering, I recommend this.
Again, if you have time to make a quick balsamic reduction, drizzle this on as a finishing touch. Don’t get carried away though. It’s a strong flavor.
What else can I do with this lovely salsa?
Man, it’s almost endless. The salsa is the flavor so if you want a quick, light vegetarian entree, top off some angel hair pasta and drizzle with balsamic reduction. You can make the dish heartier with slices of grilled chicken.
If you want low-carb, grill chicken breasts or flank steak in a garlic butter and sauté some squash. Top the meat with the salsa and serve with a dollop of balsamic reduction on the side for dipping.
Want a fabulous vegetarian burger? Grill up a portabella mushroom, top with a fat slice of mozzarella cheese and the salsa. Serve on toasted wheat buns with garlic butter. Or, if you want to try something fun, make garlic bread and use two thick slices of that for your bun. Dude.
If you aren’t ready to nom on at this point, you may be hopeless!