Monday, August 06, 2012

Bruschetta: Summer Garden on Toast—a Kid-friendly Treat

If you are a frequenter of Italian restaurants, chances are that at some time or another, you've eaten this simple and simply fantastic appetizer. Tomato salsa spooned onto crostini, fondly known as bruschetta. (Be sure to pronounce it brew-SKEH-tah--with a K sound. I often hear servers mistakenly say, brew-SHET-ah.) But if you have a summer garden, bruschetta has got to be one of the simplest ways to get your family to eat their veggies.

Bruschetta must have originated during that short time during the summer when a garden yields up its most wonderful fruit, tomatoes. At about that time, oregano and basil are also jamming. So the first bruschetta maker must have tossed these three magical parts together and thrown it on toast. What could be simpler and yet more of a crowd-pleaser, with the taste of sunshine and languid summer days in every bite?

Bruschetta is also simple for kids to make and to enjoy eating. My six-year-old helped by brushing olive oil on the bread and by chopping tomatoes with a butter knife. So call the youngsters in and let them help out in the kitchen.

Garden Bruschetta

Crostini First
Slice a good loaf of Italian bread into thin (1/2 inch) slices, and then further cut each slice in half, if needed, to make palm-sized or smaller pieces. Brush with olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Toast at 350º F for 15 minutes, or until lightly toasted.

Tomatoes Second

Chop fresh, vine-ripened heirloom, cherry, and other tomatoes to make three cups of salsa. Gather basil and oregano leaves from the garden. Chop into small pieces and add to the tomatoes, along with one clove of crushed garlic. Lastly, season with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. It the salsa is too liquidy, feel free to drain it a bit--too much liquid makes the crostini soggy.

Build It Yourself
Put the salsa in one bowl with a slotted spoon (which helps drain it), and the crostini in another. Guests then spoon their own salsa onto pieces of crostini.