During the oppressive heat of the summer months, most food bloggers take solace in the fact that the stellar produce at this time of year makes up for the sweaty, blistering temperatures. The peaches, the blueberries, the sweet Jersey corn…farmers markets are brimming with foods that require very little alteration to taste phenomenal. This isn’t the winter, where the East Coast bemoans its abundance of squash and Brussels sprouts and dreams of the days when strawberries ripen. Around this time of year, people are thrilled to leave their ovens off and let the fresh produce speak for itself.
Often, it’s the tomato that steals the spotlight. But here’s a confession – I don’t like tomatoes, at least not raw ones. I don’t like the seedy, pulpy interior, and I don’t like the slick skin that holds it all together. I don’t like large, fresh slices of the beefsteak variety on hamburgers, and I pick them out of salads, unceremoniously dropping them on Boyfriend’s plate more often than not. He, of course, adores them – he wishes I liked them more. And I want to like them, I really do, but if I can’t stomach them at the peak of their apparent deliciousness, I don’t think it’s in the cards for me.
Not to be outdone in the crazy department, though, I’ll eat them peeled and cooked into tomato sauce. In fact, I love tomato sauce. And salsa. But not ketchup. You know, just in case you thought I was predictable. As if I’d let that happen.
Spurred by this irrational love of saucy, cooked tomatoes mingled with onions and garlic, I decided to do bruschetta for dinner. Simple, fairly healthy, and so quick to put together, I find this meal endlessly satisfying – the crunchy bread, the acidic bite of the tomatoes, the tangy cheese…what’s not to love? Unless, of course, you don’t like tomatoes.
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
4 thick slices of French bread
1 tbsp butter
1/8 cup diced onion
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
3 whole, peeled plum tomatoes (Yes, I did get mine from a can. In the midst of tomato season. I’m a sad, sad creature.)
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, to taste
Shredded Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and brush both sides of each piece of bread evenly with 2 of the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Once your oven has reached 350, put the bread on a baking sheet in the middle of the oven and cook for 5 minutes on each side (or until the bread is crunchy and golden). Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When the oil has heated, add onions and cook until transluscent. Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned. Add tomatoes, basil, and spices, and cook until everything is heated through. Taste and season accordingly as you go.
When the topping and bread are both finished, top each slice with a quarter of the tomato mixture and sprinkle with cheese.