Ah bruschetta, one of the best ways to enjoy the bounty of summer. Pronounced “brusketta”, this classic Italian appetizer is a perfect way to capture the flavors of garden ripened tomatoes, fresh basil and good olive oil. Use any flavorful, ripe tomato for this recipe. The key to good bruschetta are ripe sweet tomatoes which do not need to be blanched or peeled, good rustic bread and good extra virgin olive oil.
There’s usually no exact quantity of oil mentioned in any Italian bruschetta recipe, I checked 🙂 But let’s say 2 dl of good extra virgin olive oil to start with. Then about the bread. You get the best results with a good rustic bread, better yet if it’s from the day before. Baguette or toast are too soft even after grilling them, they just get soggy.
prep time 10 min + 30 min to marinate
- 500g ripe sweet tomatoes
- 8-10 slices of rustic bread
- handful of fresh basil
- extra virgin olive oil
- clove of garlic (optional)
1. Prepare first the tomatoes. Dice them, I prefer mine relatively big, but you can dice them very small if you like and put them in a bowl. Tear the basil into small pieces and add to the bowl. When chopped, the leaves turn dark, sometimes they even take on a black quality that’s not very pretty. Add salt, remember that tomatoes love salt, and then the oil. Stir well and let marinate at least 30 minutes. Taste.
2. Grill the slices of bread on both sides on the grill or in the oven. If you are in a pinch, you can toast them. Gasp! No oil needed to coat the bread before grilling them.
3. When the bread is ready, you can swipe the top side with a peeled garlic clove and sprinkle some salt and olive oil on it. That’s the simplest way to enjoy bruschetta. You can also swipe the bread with garlic before adding the tomatoes.
4. Spoon the tomatoes on the grilled bread a few minutes before serving. I prefer letting the tomatoes sit on the bread for at least 10 minutes. I don’t mind if they get soaked a little. I think it’s more flavourful.
Tip: you can substitute rucola for basil
I first tried this fabulous Argentinian sauce many years ago in an Argentinian restaurant in Los Angeles. Mind blowing how this simple green sauce could make such a huge difference. Originally Argentinian but now known world wide chimichurri is not only for grilled meat but also good on roasted meat and vegetables, fish, bruschetta and even on cheese. Many non-authentic versions of this condiment can also be found. Versions which include fresh cilantro…and cumin…and lime or lemon juice. Most likely very delicious, but not considered authentic. And do not use a blender, also not considered authentic. Chimichurri has been a huge hit this summer amongst friends and family. 😉
prep time 10 min
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 Tbls red wine vinegar
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 2 small red chilies or chill flakes or peperoncino (to your taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 level teaspoon coarse salt
- black pepper to taste
Mix everything in a small bowl or jar. Taste and adjust to your liking. Ready to use right away but naturally tastes better after a couple of hours when the flavours have deepened. You can baste your grilled meat with chimichurri or spoon it over your meat. Excellent with any kind of grilled or barbecued meat, sausages and chorizo as well as on grilled or roasted veggies, bruschetta or even with some hard cheese.
Greek stuffed tomatoes, gemista, are similar to the Italian ones, mainly the Pomodori a riso alla romana, but there are some differences. And as with most recipes, there are variations based on the region and one’s grandmother 🙂 These healthy and juicy gemista are traditionally vegetarian but some use also ground beef or pork. Remember to use a good quality extra virgin olive oil which is key to a Greek ladera dish (prepared with oil).
prep time 20 min + 60 min for marinating cook time 90 min
ingredients for 4
- 4 large ripe tomatoes
- 125g rice (for risotto)
- 1 small onion, minced
- handful of fresh dill
- handful of fresh mint
- 1 Tbls tomato paste
- extra vergin olive oil
- juice of one lemon
- ground black pepper
- dahs of ground cumin
- sweet paprika
- ground cayenne pepper or peperoncino
- dash of sugar
- 1-2 potatoes
- 300 ml water
- 1 Tbls tomato paste
- 1-2 Tbls olive oil
- salt, pepper, dried oregano
1. Wash and pat dry the tomatoes. Cut off the top part of all the tomatoes and put aside. With a pairing knife help loosen the tomato flesh, scoop it with a spoon and put in a bowl. Place the tomatoes in a baking dish where you have put some olive oil on the bottom. Choose a baking dish where the tomatoes fit snuggly.
2. Blend the tomato flesh with an immersion blender in a fairly large bowl. Add the minced onion, chopped dill and mint, the lemon juice, tomato paste, the cumin, sweet paprika and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper and add a generous drizzle of olive oil. Mix and add the rice. Let marinate at room temperature for about an hour.
3. Peel and cut the potatoes into rounds (or wedges or cubes), put in a bowl, add 300ml of water and tomato paste. Season with oil, dried oregano, salt and pepper.
4. Pre-heat oven at 190C.
5. Add now a dash of sugar to the tomatoes and also a dash of salt. Fill them with the rice mixture which has by now absorbed most of the liquid in the bowl. Cover tomatoes with the tomato tops.
6. Place the potato slices now on top and around the tomatoes. Pour the liquid in the pan, about half way. Bake at 190C for 45 minutes covered, then uncover and bake for additional 45 minutes. Check to see if some more liquid is needed.