Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beautiful Baby Heirlooms

I've said it more than once and I will say it again: I wish I could capture the smell of summers in Vermont in a jar.  This may or may not be possible; I assume it must be, but that the amount of air in the jar would not be concentrated enough to release any detectable aroma upon opening.  This colorful Baby Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta serves as a temporary solution until I effectively find a way to trap Vermont summer air and share it with my Jersey family.

Here is what you will need:
1 pint local baby heirloom tomatoes, or grape or cherry tomatoes
3 Tbsp good Extra Virgin Olive Oil [I love California Olive Ranch oils; they are delicious, domestic, and affordable.]
1/4 Cup lightly packed Basil Leaves, torn/chopped/chiffonade- your preference
Pinch of Kosher salt

1. Cut the tomatoes into quarters or sixths, depending on the size of the tomatoes. Transfer tomatoes along with any released juices into a large, glass or stainless steel mixing bowl.
2. If serving immediately, add basil, salt & olive oil and gently fold the ingredients until evenly distributed.
3. If you are not serving immediately:
  • Do not chop your basil yet. Do that right before you mix it into your bruschetta.
  • Do not salt the tomatoes yet.  It will pull out all of the tomato-water overnight and the acidic nature of liquid will make the flesh of the tomato a lot less texturally appealing.
  • Store the cut tomatoes in a covered bowl in the refrigerator overnight if you must. 
  • Follow step #2 once you are reading to finish your bruschetta!

I usually serve my bruschetta over crostini.  Technically crostini is stale bread, but toasted slices of fresh baguette are a popular substitute.

All you will need is:
1 French Baguette
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for spraying [you can use the spray stuff in a can if you prefer, I just don't appreciate the addition of soy products and the ambiguous "Expellant" in the ingredients list; instead I use a funnel to pour about 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil into a regular spray bottle and use that to evenly distribute the oil onto my slices of bread]
Kosher Salt & Cracked Black Pepper, as needed

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. While the oven is heating up, slice the baguette on a bias into approximately 1/2 inch thick slices.
3. Arrange the sliced baguette in a single layer on a cookie sheet or sheet tray and spray with olive oil.  Lightly season with salt and pepper.
4. Transfer to oven and crisp until golden brown.  This should take 4-8 minutes depending on your oven.  DO NOT walk away while making crostini; they will go from perfect to BURNT in the blink of an eye.

Crostini are a perfect platform for the bruschetta not only because of the textural contrast, but because the dried out bread captures all of the juices being released from the tomatoes and adds yet another element of flavor and dimension.

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