Tomatoes and basil are just two things that are meant to go together. Like peanut butter and chocolate. Or chips and salsa. Or crackers and cheese. Each one compliments the other. As Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Don’t think he was referencing tomatoes and basil or chocolate and peanut butter there…
With the weather slowly warming up (on some days) and teasing us with thoughts of summer, I wanted to make a fresh and light appetizer for a dinner with friends. O how I long for the summer after the freezing German winter, which seems to just hang on and on and on. It won’t leave! I am used to the Texas standards of winter, which means winter comes for about a day then leaves. Then maybe comes again once or twice more for a day. That is it. None of this freezing temperatures in April-ness that the German winter has. So even if it is not quite summer outside, I am making it summer time in the kitchen. That means basil!
Fresh basil just screams summer for me. It makes me reminiscent for Italy and conjures up good memories of eating a caprese salad on the streets of Rome in the summer. Or gives me a craving for a refreshing iced strawberry basil lemonade. Fresh herbs just add so much flavor into a dish without adding any additional unhealthiness, such as fat or salt. I try to use fresh herbs as often as I can for enhancing the flavor of a dish and keeping it healthy. And my most recent obsession is with basil! I want to put it in everything.
Bruschetta is such an easy to throw together appetizer and I have yet to meet someone who does not like it. Bruschetta is an Italian antipasti and is pronounced like “brusketta” and not “brushetta”. It can get very confusing when we start using words from other foreign languages in our own language. I face this everyday here in Germany. There are so many English words used in German, but they throw in their own spin on the pronunciation.
An incredibly easy and light appetizer.
- Begin by chopping the tomatoes. I do this by first halving the tomatoes then roughly scooping out the liquidy flesh part with the seeds, so that you do not end up with a soggy tomato mix. Then finely chop the tomatoes and add to a medium mixing bowl.
- Add chopped onion, garlic, and basil. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and a generous drizzle around the bowl of olive oil.** (see notes.) Add salt and pepper and mix well together. Let sit for at least one hour for the flavors to combine. You will find that it tastes quite different after the flavors have blended. You can do a final spice adjustment then.
- Heat oven to 450 F° (230 C°). Slice the baguette at a diagonal into 1/2" (1.5 cm) wide slices. Lay on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until the edges are a light golden brown. For more flavor, you can lightly brush one side of the bread with olive oil and rub with a peeled garlic clove half.
- Only put tomato mixture on bread just before eating, otherwise bread will turn soggy.
*See here how to chiffonade basil. Don't be intimidated by the word. ** I start off with a minimal amount of balsamic vinegar and olive oil and add more to taste. You can always add more, but it is hard to take it out.