I have a love hate relationship with Autumn. I love the colorful fall leaves, cozy sweaters and hearty stews and soups; but the end of summer also means saying goodbye to my favorite taste of summer, ripe juicy tomatoes.
My favorite summer tomato recipe is grilled bruschetta; crusty slabs of grilled sourdough rubbed with raw garlic, topped with sweet cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and fresh basil. Originally served in Italy as an antipasto, basic bruschetta consists of grilled bread rubbed with fresh garlic and topped only with olive oil and salt, but makes an excellent base for experimentation.
Variations add ingredients ranging from tomatoes, roasted vegetables, whole or mashed beans, to cheeses and cured meats, often becoming a meal in itself. My personal favorite bruschetta includes roasting the tomatoes to intensify their natural character with a bit of flavorful char, and is an excellent way to enjoy sweet, late-harvest tomatoes while they last.
This recipe is quick and easy, and makes for a light summery dinner, or can be enjoyed as an appetizer and pairs perfectly with 2012 Sonoma The Cutrer. It’s a mild-creamy Chardonnay with notes of roasted nuts, honey, nectarine and honeydew melon. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.
Makes 8 large toasts
8 1” thick slices of sourdough or ciabatta (I prefer La Brea)
3 tablespoons olive oil (for bread and tomatoes)
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
20 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 lb grape or cherry tomatoes, I chose a gourmet medley
1 large clove raw garlic, peeled
Flaked finishing salt (I like Fleur de Sel de Geurande or Maldon for this dish)
Preheat one side of grill to low. Brush each slice of bread on both sides with olive oil, set aside. In a medium bowl toss tomatoes with a tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Make a foil pouch for tomato mixture, sealing edges well to create steam.
Grill bread 4-5 minutes per side, watching closely so it doesn’t burn. Transfer to cool side of grill to keep warm while grilling foil pouch for 10 minutes.
When bread has cooled enough to handle, rub each side with garlic clove and finish with a few twists of cracked pepper. Toss tomatoes with chopped basil to combine, adding a drizzle of olive oil if necessary. Some tomatoes will have burst but most should remain intact, providing explosive little bursts of flavor with each bite. Arrange bread around bowl, topping each piece immediately before serving. Enjoy!