Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bruschetta (a.k.a Toast with Stuff on It)

Got some friends coming over, and want to make some fancy-looking snacks? Bruschetta is so simple: you're basically making toast, then chopping up some vegetables and putting them on top. This recipe calls for tomatoes and basil, but you can use whatever comes to mind. CiaoChowLinda's blog post on different bruschetta ideas should help spark your imagination.

First, a brief lesson: Bruschetta is pronounced "brew-sket-tah," not "brew-shet-tah." I'm not overly anal about a lot of things, but it hurts my ears when I hear things bastardized. Also on my list: "Muzzarel." Ok, I'm getting off my soapbox now.

What You'll Need

Bread (a baguette works best)
Olive Oil (not that much, maybe a few tablespoons)
A tomato
A sprig of basil
Shallot or 1/4 of an onion

Since there are so few ingredients, the key is to find as fresh a tomato, basil, and bread as you can find. There's nowhere for bad stuff to hide.

Slice the Bread

The first thing you need to do is to make the toast. I like to use a baguette and slice it into halves or thirds lengthwise, but it's really up to you as to how big you want to make each individual piece.
If you have a toaster oven, sprinkle a little olive oil on the top of each piece, and then toast the bread until it's golden. If you're using a toaster, then add the olive oil after.

Dice the Tomato

This is where having a sharp knife helps. Dice the tomato into cubes about 1/4 of an inch on each side, as seen above. 

Dice the Shallot

This is a great trick for cutting any shallot/onion - once you start doing it this way, you'll never go back to whatever it is you were doing before. 
  • Slice the onion in half, so that you split the root part in two. 
  • Then, take one half, and peel back the outer layers. 
  • Next, make horizontal slices about 1/8th of an inch in size.
  • After that, make vertical slices about 1/8 of an inch in size. The end result should look like the photo above. 

Finally, you're going to slice down through the top of the onion in 1/8th of an inch increments, as shown above. The result: a finely chopped onion, with identically sized pieces. It takes some time to get this right, but it's worth it.

Chop the Basil

Next, you want to slice the basil into thin strips, about as thick--if not thinner--than the onion. The easiest way to do this is to take a bunch of leaves and roll them up into a tube, then start slicing.
After, add the tomatoes, onion, and basil into a bowl.

Add Seasoning

Looking good so far, but now you want to add about a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of pepper, and about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. You can be precise, or just use the palm of your hand. (Not advised for olive oil). I used kosher salt, but any salt will do.

Next, mix all the ingredients together, and taste them. Does it need more salt? More pepper? More olive oil?

Spread It On

Once you have the taste the way you like it, spread the mixture on the toast, and enjoy!

Delicious and easy, right? Now try it with other stuff.

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