With all of the gorgeous tomatoes in season right now, my head has been overflowing with recipe ideas. I could make a tomato/watermelon/feta/mint salad… I could make fresh tomato sauce… I could make juicy smoky BLTs. The options are endless. This time around, I chose to go quick and fast with Tomato Bruschetta. With the ripest tomatoes, I find that this recipe requires no oil–just go by taste. You want the seasonal tomatoes to shine–and this dish gives them center stage.
Start with 2 really ripe but still firm tomatoes. Any red kind will do: beefsteaks, heirlooms, even cherry tomatoes. I like to buy tomatoes a little under-ripe, so that they have time to ripen on a windowsill, bruise-free. Chop the tomatoes in 1/4-inch size cubes, but don’t worry about being exact. Discard any mushy parts.
Next, dice 1/4 of a large red onion (or half of a small-medium red onion). You can also substitute in 2 diced shallots or even a 1/4 of a large yellow onion. I prefer the red onion because it gives such wonderful color to the dish. Mince 2 cloves of garlic. Add all of the tomatoes, onions, and garlic to a bowl. Season with a lot of salt. If you’re afraid of the salt, just add it gradually and taste as you go. Salt really brings out the juices in tomatoes and makes their flavor so much more pronounced. Since it brings out their juice, it makes the bruschetta mixture very liquid-y, making oil not as necessary. Season with white pepper to taste.
Cover the bruschetta mixture and chill in the fridge until ready to serve. While the mixture is chilling, prepare the toasts. Take any high-quality white loaf of bread, such as Italian bread or ciabatta. Avoid french baguettes here–you want to have toasts that are substantial, not 2-bite-size. Slice bread 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick, or just have your baker slice the bread in a machine for you. Spray both sides of the slices with cooking spray and toast in a toaster oven (or under the broiler in your oven.) Place the slices on a serving platter. Allow to cool slightly. Take the bruschetta mixture from the fridge. Taste it. If it needs more salt, add it. With a slotted spoon, pile the bruschetta mixture on the toasts. Top with diced fresh basil. Serve. If you want more richness, drizzle some olive oil on the finished tomato bruschettas when about to serve.
Serves 6-8 as a first course
2 large red tomatoes, or 3 small tomatoes, chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
1/4 large red onion (or 1/2 medium/small red onion), diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn
SALT and white pepper
1 loaf of high-quality Italian bread, sliced into 1/4-1/2-inch slices
optional: olive oil for drizzling
1. In a medium-size bowl, stir the tomatoes, red onion, and garlic together. Add a sprinkle of salt and white pepper. Taste. You want the mixture to be pretty salty–as the salt helps bring out the juices of the tomatoes. You will likely be adding sprinkles of salt several times. Once the right taste is achieved, cover the bowl of bruschetta mixture with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
2. Spray each side of the bread slices with cooking spray. Toast in a toaster oven until browned (or under the broiler in an oven.) Cool a minute or two at room temperature.
3. With a slotted spoon, liberally top the toasted bread slices with the bruschetta mixture on a serving platter. Sprinkle the basil on top. Optional: drizzle with olive oil for added richness. Serve.