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    Classic tomato bruschetta (image by Takeaway)

    Bruschetta is simple, homespun antipasto that originates from Italy. It consists of simple grilled or toasted bread rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive oil, and topped with salads, meats, or cheeses.

    The most classic version is tomato bruschetta, which is most decadent in summer when tomatoes are fresh. This recipe is surprisingly simple and incredibly delicious. The key is toasting the bread until it is beautifully crunchy and finishing with high-quality olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.

    The key to correct Italian bruschetta is grilling the bread using a brustolina, a specialized stovetop grill for gas stoves. The bread is simply grilled on the heated brustolina until brown on each side. Since most American cooks don’t have one, an oven broiler works just as well.

    Salad Ingredients

    6 or 7 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
    4 chopped fresh basil leaves
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    Grated Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)
    Extra basil leaves for garnish (optional)

    Crostini Ingredients

    1 long Italian loaf or baguette, cut in 1/2 inch thick slices
    2 cloves garlic, finely minced
    1/4 cup olive oil
    Salt

    Directions

    Set your oven to broil and preheat, making sure the oven rack is set on the middle shelf. Mix the olive oil and garlic oil. Place the sliced bread on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each slice of bread with the garlic/olive oil mixture, making sure to coat each side. Place the bread under the broiler, and bake for 3-4 minutes per side, or until each side is golden brown. You must keep a close watch on the bread to keep it from burning. Once the crostini are out of the oven, dust them lightly with salt.

    Make the tomato salad by mixing the chopped tomatoes with the basil, olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Allow the flavors to marry for at least 30 minutes before serving.

    Dress your crostini with the salad only when you are ready to serve your bruschetta because the salad will slowly make the bread soggy. To serve, place the tomato mixture on the bread and dress with grated Parmigiano Reggiano, an extra drizzle of aged or reduced balsamic vinegar, and/or a basil leaf.

    About Jessie Keith


    Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.