May 21, 2011

2 birds, 1 stone

To (selfishly) honor a request for a 5 ingredient or less recipe, I decided to make bruschetta.  For those of you who listen to my whining about what I crave (and sometimes tolerate it), it was time to put up or shut up.  Bruschetta is one of those things that you can barely classify as a "recipe" but it has clean, simple flavors and when made with great ingredients it is amazingly delicious.

There is nothing worse than using those insipid, pale, cellophane-wrapped tomatoes from the supermarket when summer's bounty is about to give you the most luscious, ripe tomatoes you could ask for.  If you are lucky enough to have any kind of green space or even a pot on a fire-escape you know the joy of seeing those little seedlings bear fruit.  Growing your own food is something I long to be able to do,  but in the meantime I go to the farmer's market.

There are farmer's markets everywhere now and there is a world of difference between a tomato that came from a farm and the aforementioned kind... a tomato that hasn't been "genetically engineered".  A tomato that actually tastes like a tomato.

For obvious reasons,  this is best made when tomatoes are in season.  A perfectly ripe tomato is what summer tastes like to me and when making something with such few ingredients, it is essential to have them at their peak. 

baby heirloom tomatoes

For this humble offering of a "recipe"  you will need the following:

a loaf of Italian bread
tomatoes  (3 large -or-  2 pints grape/cherry tomatoes)
garlic  (2 cloves)
basil  (half a bunch)
olive oil (1/4 cup, give or take a little)
salt & pepper to taste (these are ALWAYS freebies, so it's not cheating)

1. Slice the bread.  I like to do it on the bias,  so I have a little more surface area.

2. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, or use a pastry brush and coat it evenly with the olive oil.  Sprinkle on a little salt & pepper.

3. Toast the bread.  If you have a grill pan,  use it.  If not, put it in the oven & toast it at 350 for a few minutes until it is golden brown & crunchy.

4. Dice the tomato, paste the garlic (we'll get to that in a minute) and finely slice (or chiffonade) the basil.

The best way to do this is to stack all of the basil leaves on top of one another and them roll them up length-wise as tightly as you can can.

 Then you slice as thinly as your knife skills will allow and you will have ribbons of basil leaf.

5. To make garlic paste: mince the garlic and then sprinkle a bit of kosher salt over it.  The salt acts as an abrasive, helping to break down the garlic.  With the side of the blade, work the garlic back & forth on the cutting board until you start to see it break down. Pasting fresh garlic is nice because you get all the garlic flavor without biting into a chunk of raw garlic which isn't very pleasant.

6. Add the tomato, garlic and basil to a bowl,  add in a few glugs of good olive oil, salt & pepper to taste and pile on top of your perfectly toasted bread.

7. Devour with unabashed pleasure.

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