Summer is finally here, and, with that, I graciously welcome the amazing tomatoes popping up at Farmers Markets...and those growing in my garden (and by "garden" I mean two heirloom tomato plants on my balcony).
I recently started to "re-fall" in love with tomatoes, mostly due to finally having GOOD tomatoes. Growing up, I pretty much detested these lovely, fruitful orbs, mostly because whether it was a sandwich, salad, or anything else using tomatoes, I couldn't stand the texture - mealy, grainy, tasteless. Little did I realize at the time that I wasn't eating a good quality tomato.
Nowadays there are so many fantastic varieties available that either speak for themselves: whether simply sliced and sprinkled with a little sea salt and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, used to enhance a fantastic salad, or roasted to perfect the perfect pasta or risotto dish (you get the picture).
Or, in my all time favorite case: diced and "married" with pungent garlic, aromatic basil, fruity extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Yes, we are talking about the all-too-common topping to bruschetta.
But, as I mentioned before, what makes or breaks this simple yet oh-so-yummy appetizer is the tomatoes.
I recently came across some amazing organic Campari tomatoes in the market, which are about the size of cherry tomatoes, but packed with that sweet yet slightly acidic punch you expect from a good tomato. I was craving a light snack, and went straight to my refrigerator to create this delicious take on "bruschetta al pomodoro". I had some pitted Kalamata olives on hand, and honestly, it is what made this recipe rise to new heights. But the true key is having excellent tomatoes on hand (in addition to great olive oil!).
* 12 Campari tomatoes (or any other fantastic ripe tomatoes), seeded and diced
* 1 C Kalamata olives, pitted and diced
* Handful of fresh basil, chiffonade (demonstrated below)
* 1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
* Really good extra virgin olive oil
* Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
* Toasted bread rounds
First, quarter and seed the tomatoes
Then dice the tomatoes and the olives and add to bowl
Next up, chiffonade the basil. This is a technique done by laying the basil leaves on top of each other and then rolling them up and slicing very thinly:
Add this sliced basil to the tomatoes with the garlic. Drizzle enough olive oil to coat and toss together. Taste, add some sea salt and pepper, taste again, and let the mix sit for at least an hour. This will allow the garlic to mellow out a bit and also allow all of the flavors to infuse together.
I know, I know, this is too easy, but when you can combine quality tomatoes at their peak with simple complimentary ingredients, you create something that looks this good, and tastes even better. The Kalamata olives just heighten this otherwise basic combination, adding this certain briny-ness that seems to bring out more of the sweetness in the tomatoes. Plus, the pungency of the garlic adds that "one-two" punch that rounds out everything you want on your palate.
This is a "must go to" recipe for the Summer as tomatoes will be in abundance. It is a sure crowd pleaser - and make it your own! It's a building block recipe for added ingredients - herbs, cheese, roasted peppers, shallots, or simply toss with salad greens - you see where I am going with this.
Oh, and don't forget a great glass of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, or Sauvignon Blanc - as any (or all three...) would go great with this yummy tomato mix!