One of my favorite platitudes is “don’t reinvent the wheel.” I mean, who has the time to reinvent anything when there are naps to take and George R.R. Martin books to abandon halfway through (sadly this is true for both reader and author)? And it’s so practical. Why reinvent something already perfect in its simplicity? Take the shirt. The shirt is a marvel of human innovation, with or without sleeves. We don’t need to cut out its shoulders. In fact, I’m not sure anyone has ever uttered the phrase, “This feels like a real shoulders-out moment to me,” except for maybe Emily from Pretty Little Liars. And to her I’ll say, “Your shoulders are cold, girl. They are cold.”
This is a classic plate-and-switch introduction to my new favorite bruschetta recipe, though (get it?), because, while I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, I would occasionally like to bedazzle it. Good tomato bruschetta is an homage to the beauty of simplicity, but something that I don’t care to eat (faithful readers will remember the anecdote wherein, at age four, I gurgitated then regurgitated twice my age in raw tomatoes from my mother’s backyard garden). Despite this, I love to make bruschetta because its ingredients bring me culinary joy: a bread vehicle, copious amounts of cheese, and a rustic combination of ingredients that help the sum transcend its parts.
But occasionally a girl wants to eat her bruschetta, so I hauled out my book of stickers and customized the hell out of this wheel. Yeah, I cooked the tomatoes. That’s not all I did, but for the sake of the nutshell (in which this recipe fits perfectly inside), yeah, dude, those tomatoes are cooked! Here, in the last moments of warm weather before winter comes (that’s like two GOT references, and neither of them topical!), it’s the perfect dish to start your meal.
We love to grill the bread to add extra oomph to the bruschetta’s flavor profile, but toasting it in the oven is perfectly fine. If you can, score local or heirloom tomatoes as even I, queen of the crusade against raw ‘maters, know that bland, watery tomatoes are no way to start a dish in which they intend to star. And star they do—I almost ate twice my age in bruschetta slices while workshopping this recipe, which is frankly more of an accomplishment than it used to be.
- 2 cups quartered, sliced grape tomatoes or equivalent substitution
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- Splash of white wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bunch of basil, julienned
- 1 loaf good Italian/French bread
- Ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced
- Before beginning tomato topping, slice the bread into ½ inch slices, brush with olive oil, and either bake in the oven at 375F for 10 minutes, until toasted, or grill on each side until toasted.
- In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the tomatoes and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes. Add a splash of wine and let it cook down for another five minutes, reducing a bit of the tomato liquid as well. Add the red chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste, and stir.
- Remove from heat, and add ¼ cup of the basil. Top the hot, toasted bread with a slice of mozzarella, a spoonful of tomatoes, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Garnish with additional basil and enjoy.