Bruschetta

This makes for a great appetizer or even a light dinner.

Follow these tips to elevate your brushetta game from great to magnificent.

Note: The instructions below recommend that you toast the bread while finishing the bruschetta – this is mostly for efficiency. If you don’t feel like you can keep an eye on the toasting bread, just do the bread at the end. The bruschetta can sit in the colendar for a few minutes no problem.

Tips:

1. Take care of the tomatoes first. Once you’ve diced your tomatoes, salt them generously with kosher salt and toss them in a colander. Allow them to sit for 20 or 30 minutes in the sink – the salt will draw out A LOT of moisture. This will keep them from sogging out your toast. (This tip works well when making salsa as well – no one likes watery salsa!)

2. Use fresh Mozzarella. Pat it dry when it comes out of the packaging, place it on a plate, and then put something moderately heavy (a foil wrapped brick, cast iron skillet) on it for 10 minutes or so to press out any additional moisture (like you would for tofu). Again, this keeps your toast nice and crispy!

3. When it comes time to toast the bread, use a cast iron or stainless steel skillet. A thin, translucent layer of mayonnaise spread on the bread will guarantee the the perfectly toasted, edge-to-edge browning created by the Maillard Reaction and caramelization. This trick works great on grilled cheese too!

4. Rubbing the cut side of a freshly cut garlic clove on the warm toast as soon as it comes off the heat adds a subtle garlickiness that isn’t overpowering.

5. Using a finishing salt, such as Maldon or Fleur de Sel – or this super interesting Black Lava Salt, add a depth of texture and bring out the flavors of the finished product.

Ingredients:

1. 8oz fresh Mozzarella cheese, lightly pressed for 10 minutes and cut into 1/4 inch cubes

2. 6 – 8 tomatoes (I prefer tomatoes-on-the-vine because they taste so garden fresh, but any tomatoes will do), cut into 1/4 inch cubes

3. Kosher salt

4. Chiffonade (sliced into ribbons) fresh basil, use whatever amount you like.

5. 1/2 teaspoon powdered oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh, finely minced)

6. 4-6 thick slices bread (day old works quite well here as long as it isn’t stale)

7. 2 cloves garlic: 1 finely minced or grated on a microplane; the other cut in half.

8. Mayonnaise, for brushing bread.

9. Drizzle of olive oil

10. Pinch of coarse finishing salt (optional)

Instructions

1. Begin by dicing the tomatoes. Once diced, place them in a colander and salt them generously with kosher salt. Toss to coat and let drain in your sink for 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Remove Mozzarella from packaging and lightly press for 10 minutes.

3. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add a tablespoon of oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Spread a thin, translucent layer of mayo on both sides of bread slices. (A pastry brush works great here, but a plain old butter knife will work too – just don’t overdo it; you don’t want it gloppy). Add to the pan and allow to brown, about 3-5 minutes.

4. While bread is toasting, dice up Mozzarella and add to colander with tomatoes.

5. Check on the bread. If it’s nicely browned, flip and brown 3-5 minutes on the other side. If not, proceed to the next step.

6. Add minced garlic, oregano, basil and drizzle of olive oil to colander and toss to mix well. Flip bread and brown on other side if you haven’t already done so.

7. Once both sides of bread are nicely toasted and golden brown, remove from heat and immediately swipe clove of garlic, cut side down, over each piece of toast, paying special attention to the edges. Flip toast and repeat with the other half of the clove.

8. Final assembly: Heap bruschetta from colander onto toast. If using finishing salt, sprinkle 1 pinch from way up high over all assembled bruschettas.

Goes great with a robust red wine.

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