An old Italian proverb says: “Day-old bread, month-old oil, and year-old wine”. Although the speaker and context of the proverb are unknown, I am fairly certain they were eating bruschetta at the time. Bruschetta is a rustic dish, exuding the perfect balance of acidity, salinity, and herbaceousness.
From the verb “bruscare” (or “to toast”), bruschetta dates back to the Etruscan age, when farmers occupying the land between Rome and Tuscany began brushing bread with olive oil and garlic then baking it in the oven. The dish has since evolved with the addition of toppings such as meats, vegetables and all kinds of cheeses. Despite the endless variations, the basic concept of a bruschetta remains the same – simple, fresh, and flavorful ingredients.
The bruschetta recipe below was given to me by my friend Alyssa of Alyssa Cooks Catering. It is quick and easy, and when paired with a glass of wine, is the perfect way to start any evening.
Tomato and Basil Bruschetta with Balsamic Reduction
3 ripe plum tomatoes (any kind is okay, really), seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
Baguette or crusty long loaf bread, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, minced garlic, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Set aside to marinate for 60 minutes (you don’t necessarily have to wait this long, but the longer you wait, the more the flavors will come out).
In a sauce pan, heat the balsamic vinegar and sugar over medium heat until thickened. Pour the glaze into a small bowl and set aside. This will be drizzled on top of the tomato mixture afterwards to finish.
Make the Bruschetta
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Celsius. In a small bowl combine olive oil, salt and pepper. Place slices of bread onto a lined baking sheet and brush with olive oil mixture. Bake for about 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
Top each slice with spoonful of the tomato mixture. Drizzle the balsamic reduction onto each bruschetta. Serve and enjoy.