Oct 11, 2010

Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta over Pan-Fried Bread

What separates an ordinary bruschetta from a great one is the use of over-ripe heirloom tomatoes – not only do they provide a juicy and vibrant taste, but also a great color palette for the dish. Also, pan-frying the bread in olive oil (and if your feeling rich, a dollop of butter) gives the bread a nice crunch and gives the dish a more luxurious taste. The first taste of the pan-fried bread will make any other bruschetta you’ve ever had pale in comparison. The use of a coarse salt such as kosher or sea salt adds a nice salty crunch and offsets the richness from the olive oil.

Bruschetta is simple and incredibly delicious, either as a starter or great in combination with a chunk of parmigiano-reggiano and dry salami. On a Friday night after a long work week bruschetta, cheese, salami and your drink of choice is an easy and rewarding dish to start the weekend.

Caitlin: Pan-frying the bread adds a richness that I can’t sacrifice – one bite and I can’t have it any other way. Monica added chopped garlic to her mixture; I opted to leave the garlic out this time, however, both taste great – it really depends on your personal preference. I’m actually enjoying my bruschetta right now as I type this; careful of course not to let the juice from the tomatoes drip down from my chin onto my computer, and it’s wonderful.

Monica: I was shopping for full-size heirloom tomatoes, however, the only ones I could find were mini heirlooms and their size worked perfectly for bruschetta. Pan-frying the baguette (you could also use a rustic style bread) made this dish even more delectable. I coated the pan with olive oil, heated the pan, added my bread to the pan and voila! In a matter of minutes my bread was fried to golden perfection and ready to be topped with the bruschetta mixture.  Let me tell you, one bite, and you’ll be glad you fried that bread.

Heirloom Tomatoes
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil
Kosher or Sea Salt and Pepper
Garlic, optional
Crusty Baguette

Slice your bread and set aside. Heat your olive oil (and butter, if using) – make sure there’s enough because your bread will absorb it. Add the bread pieces and fry for a minute or two per side, making sure not to let the bread burn. When done, put the pieces on a plate lined with a paper towel. Set aside.

Chop your tomatoes and basil. Put in a bowl and combine with salt, pepper and olive oil. If you opt to use the garlic, finely chop or mince a clove or two into the mixture. Don’t be stingy with the salt, you’ll want to offset the olive oil; just remember to keep tasting to make sure it’s not too much.

Place your bread slices on a plate, top with the tomato mixture, and enjoy!

You can opt to use fresh bread without frying it, however at least try it first – one bite and we’re sure you’ll love it.

Garlic – it depends on your taste and personal preference. Both tasted great.

Regular size heirlooms instead of mini heirlooms; again, personal preference and what’s available in your local market.

Drink of Choice
Caitlin: I chose a sweet white Muscat. The sweetness of the wine offset the richness of the olive oil and seemed to be a perfect match.
Monica: The acidity of the tomatoes and the saltiness of the cheese and salami made me crave something bubbly.  A good non-alcoholic beverage choice is a glass of Pellegrino with a lime twist…looking for something a bit more fun, I suggest a glass of Asti (the subtle sweetness of the wine and the bubbles went perfectly).

Caitlin: Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Is there anything else that goes better with an Italian dish and wine?
Monica: Anything by Sinatra….doesn’t get much better than that!  Maybe start with “Fly Me to the Moon” and go from there.

A Recipe to Remember?
Absolutely, this dish was easy and delicious.

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