Bruschetta has lately become one of my favorite appetizers and sides to share for dinner parties or casual gatherings. It is easy, healthy, delicious, and serves beautifully as an hors d’oeuvre (or an appetizer if you want to keep it ‘cas’). I make my bruschetta with three main ingredients: sweet and juicy tomatoes, fresh and fragrant basil, and of course, garlic. I serve my bruschetta atop some freshly toasted slices of baguettes, topped with fresh mozzarella and freshly ground pepper.
My secret ingredient is roasted garlic. I use plenty of garlic in this recipe, and I roast 3-4 cloves in the oven to impart a surprisingly sweet and rustic flavor to this dip. I simply wrap a few large, plump garlic cloves in foil and set them in the oven at 400 degrees (F) for about 10-15 minutes. I use almost equal amounts of basil as tomatoes, and drizzle on some good balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
I can eat a whole bowl of this as a salad, guilt-free. This dish is so perfect in the summer when I can use my garden fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes and freshly picked basil. Our summer tomatoes that start as measly little stems from the farmer’s market for $3, flourish into jungle-like vines of endless, plump, juicy tomatoes that we don’t know what the heck to do with! Hence, this timely salad. Although not timely with my blog publication in the winter, this recipe is still amazing any time of the year. I promise, this appetizer is equally delicious throughout the winter, and I have been making it more often because of all the holiday and family gatherings. I finely dice the tomatoes into cubes, as I would for tabbouli, or I if using cherry tomatoes, I cut them into quarters. It is important to separate the extra juice and seeds from the tomatoes; this prevents an overly soppy bruschetta. Scooping the juicy seeds to the side and slurping later, works perfectly fine for us!
The tomatoes get marinated with balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt & pepper, onion powder, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil. The basil is not merely a topping, but is an essential partner to mingle with the tomatoes. The fresh flavors are just WOW.
I don’t feel the need to toast bread in oil, but instead set them onto my panini grill and press them for a a couple of minutes until golden and toasted. Any method works fine!
- 4-5 firm, but ripe tomatoes (2 cups chopped)
- 1.5 cup of basil leaves (about 1 bunch)
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- optional: fresh mozzarella sliced into rounds
- 1-2 fresh baguettes, sliced diagonally into rounds
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees (f).
- Wrap 3 of the garlic cloves loosely in foil and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes.
- Dice the tomatoes into small cubes, separating the juicy parts and seeds to the side.
- Separate the basil leaves, and layer several basil leaves into a single stack. Roll, and slice thinly into long strips. Chop strips into smaller pieces if they are too long. Repeat until all the basil is thinly sliced.
- Remove the roasted garlic from the oven and smash it in the bottom of a medium sized bowl.
- Add the tomatoes. Mince the remaining fresh garlic cloves and toss them with the tomatoes in the bowl.
- Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and spices, and stir well. Add the basil. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes before serving.
- On a grill pan or regular pan add olive oil, and toast the slices of baguette until golden.
- Spoon a dollop of bruschetta onto the toasted bread, add a piece of mozzarella, and top with freshly ground pepper.