Bruschetta Al Pomodoro (Bruschetta with Tomatoes)

Variation: Bruschetta Al Pomodoro E Basilico (Bruschetta with Tomatoes and Basil) and Bruschetta Al Pomodoro e Tartufo (Bruschetta with Tomatoes and Truffle)

Ingredients:

Bread
Tomatoes
Sea Salt
Sunshine Coast Olive Oil Co. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I prefer an early harvest, grassy oil such as Hojiblanca or Picual or a peppery Coratina)

Optional: fresh basil, Sunshine Coast Olive Oil Co White Truffle or Black Truffle Oil, Sunshine Coast Olive Oil Co. Basil Olive Oil.

Bruschetta has many variations in North America, but the most common bruschetta in Italy is topped with tomatoes and olive oil (without herbs or cheese). Since it is a simple dish, you need the finest ingredients. The biggest challenge is choosing the correct tomatoes outside of garden season. Campari or cherry tomatoes are often the best choice from the supermarket. Supermarket beefsteak tomatoes are a poor choice. In garden season, yellow and red cherry tomatoes, as well as juicy heirloom tomatoes are my personal favourites.

If you can use fresh garden tomatoes, it is best to partially or fully de-seed them (so the liquid and seeds do not make the crisp, toasted bread soggy).

If it is not garden-tomatoe season, do not remove the seeds. Instead, chop the tomatoes and use a fork to lift the tomatoes off the cutting board (which will semi-drain them, but still leave you with some flavour)

The bread you choose is crucial. You need a bread that, when toasted, will not fall apart when it is ‘rubbed’ with garlic.   Baguettes can be sliced horizontally (as opposed to in rounds). IGAs Toscano bread works well sliced lengthwise then in half. This bread needs to be sliced about the width of my middle finger. If you slice it too thinly it will brown unevenly and will crumble when you rub it with garlic.

If you grow your own garlic, my favourite variety is Russian Red. It is strong-flavoured without being bitter.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: choose a robust olive oil with tomatoe or peppery notes such as Oro Bailen’s Spanish Picual.

Turn your oven on to broil. Peel your garlic cloves. Slice your tomatoes into smallish cubes.

Slice your bread the appropriate thickness. Place on a cookie sheet on the second highest rack.   Broil your bread, flipping it every 30-60 seconds, allowing it to brown without burning. For the final result, you want a firm, crisp bread that is not so hard that it hurts your teeth. It should still have some ‘give’ in the bread when you bite into it. Keep flipping your bread until it is a deep golden brown. When it is almost done, pull the bread out of the oven and rub it with fresh garlic. Your garlic should be ‘grated’ by the bread, so that the garlic rubs into the bread and ‘disappears’ as your rub it. Againm this works better with home-grown garlic.

Once you have ‘garlicked’ the bread, return it to the oven briefly for one final ‘crisping’ stage. Be careful not to let it burn or char. Lay the pieces of hot bread on your serving plate, garlic rubbed side up.

To place the tomatoes correctly on the toasted bread, lift the tomatoes up with a fork, allowing the liquid to drain off a bit. Cover the entire piece of bread to the edges with the chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle with freshly ground sea salt. Drizzle with Oro Bailen Picual.

Variation 1: Mix fresh chopped basil in with the tomatoes before adding to top of toasted bread. To chop the basil, stack 4 leaves on top of each other and slice into extra thin strips.

Variation 2: Drizzle with a few drops of Truffle Olive Oil over the EVOO.

Variation 3: Drizzle well with Basil Olive Oil.

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