Bruschetta! My daughter and I fell in love with this incredible substance the first time we tasted it in a tiny upstairs Italian restaurant in Philadephia years ago. The kitchen was steps away from our table. Was it authentic? Well, The chefs argued in Italian! We nibbled it and thoughtfully rolled every bite around on our tongues trying to analyze the ingredients.
Our Love For Bruschetta Has A Great Back Story
You must know this has a back story because, well, I’ve almost always got one for you. That evening, we were in Philadelphia for a gift show, selling the most adorable appliqued tea towels and other fabric items.
Apple Kay’s was the name of our cottage industry back home in Nebraska. We went into business in the ’80s. For 22 years, we sold thousands of them in both holiday and everyday designs. We stitched my simple patterns onto homespun towels. Here are a couple of the designs so you get an idea of what we manufactured.
Foodie Adventures On The Road
We traveled a lot during the years we sold tea towels. Philadephia was one of our favorite spots! Our best accounts were little shops in cute tourist areas along the east coast.
We were hicks back then and we still are! However, we’ve never shied away from a culinary adventure! We loved the amazing tandoori at an Indian restaurant we found and gobbled up wiener schnitzel and red cabbage at Otto’s Brau Haus! But until that evening, we’d never tasted bruschetta.
Bruschetta Is Not All The Same
Bruschetta (say it Broo-sketta) is a class of antipasto (appetizers) and not a specific recipe. Every Italian kitchen has a unique way to make it. We fell in love with the version of bruschetta we ate in the tiny restaurant where we first discovered it. This is as close as I can get. It’s really a method more than it is a recipe. We have it almost every day in the summer when fresh tomatoes are abundant at the farmer’s market.
Summer Tastes “Betta” With Bruschetta!
I often make up just one or two tomatoes for Papa and me. When we meet up for a family summer feast I make a huge batch using 8 or 10 big tomatoes, and a giant bunch of basil. Try spooning bruschetta on a burger or add it to a salad. Bellisimo! I must tell you it should come with a warning label. Caution, this substance may be addictive!
Bruschetta is fun to say and it’s even more fun to eat! I could make a meal of it! Best of all, it’s quick and easy to throw together. I bet you’ll be making it all summer long now that you know how!
It all starts with good, firm ripe tomatoes and fresh basil!!
Wash, core, and chop the tomato coarsely and toss it in a bowl reserving as much juice as you can. I prefer a glass bowl because this is somewhat acidic. You can use a combination of yellow and red tomatoes or any heirloom variety. It makes it even more beautiful. Cherry or grape tomatoes work fine too. Especially homegrown. And my Lord, especially if they are still warm from the sun!
Some prefer to use only the meat of the tomato and you can decide. We chop up the whole tomato, seeds and all. We love the “jus” that forms when everything mingles and the delicious way it soaks into the bread or cracker you choose. You will develop your own spin on bruschetta and I say go for it!
A Chiffonade Takes A Little Practice
I’m not especially proud of how my basil “chiffonade” looks in this picture. I admit I was in a hurry but I was born that way. Stack the basil leaves on top of each other, roll up, and cut into thin ribbons. Ideally.
The word chiffonade means “to crumple.” If you’re a purist, you can find dozens of videos about making a chiffonade, thanks to Mr. Google. If you’re not, do what I do. Close your eyes, open your mouth, and slurp it up!
Now simply add the rest of the ingredients, stir gently, and allow it to sit while the ingredients all meet, fall in love. and make magic. In my opinion, bruschetta tastes best at room temperature. If you don’t eat it all then store it in the refrigerator but let it sit out a bit before you serve it. Tomatoes vary a lot in their sweetness so feel free to adjust your sugar, salt, and balsamic until your mouth is happy!!
Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, serves her classic bruschetta on crostini or thin buttered garlic toast. She makes hers in a skillet and it looks amazing! Here’s the deal though. For a lot less hassle and time spent, we have found a woven wheat cracker such as Triscuit works splendidly and soaks up all the marvelous juices like a sponge. It sure works for my hungry bunch.
Ta-Da!! You are now a kitchen maven who can whip up a batch of fresh bruschetta like a champ!! Enjoy!! And love every drop of sunshine in the season!
- 1 medium to large firm, ripe tomato
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 2 tsp sugar, or to taste
- 1 to 2 tsp of Kosher salt. Start with less and work up.
- 2 Tbsp good balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder, use fresh if you really like garlic
- 2 Tbsp fresh grated Parmesan cheese, optional but amazing!
- Core and coarsely chop tomato. Chop basil in fine shreds (chiffonade). Put in a glass bowl, add salt, sugar, garlic powder, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
- Stir gently to combine ingredients and allow to sit for 30 minutes or so to let the favors fall in love and marry.
- I prefer to make this close to mealtime so it can be served at room temperature.
- Traditionally served on thin, crisp buttered garlic toast or crostini. However, we've found that a woven wheat cracker such as Triscuit makes a dandy quick palette for this divine creation in our crazy life.
Have you ever tried bruschetta? Have you ever made it in your own kitchen? Chopped olives in it. Yes or no?
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