Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Staple Hors d'Oeuvre: Kate’s Tomato Bruschetta

I think that we all have our “staple” dishes. The one that we’re called upon to bring whenever there is a family dinner, birthday party, or other kind of gathering. This staple makes us feel good, because it means that others enjoy our dish again and again. (Or, it alternatively could mean that no one else wants to make a particular dish that is necessary for a gathering, and we get stuck with it – Thanksgiving anyone?)

My staple genre happens to be hors d'oeuvres. And I love it. If my dinner every night merely consisted of hors d'oeuvres, I’d be a very happy woman. I love that you can try little bites of so many different foods, and go back for seconds on the ones you like. When my sister sent out the food sign-up for my nephew’s last birthday party, I asked if I could bring all of the hors d'oeuvres. After ensuring that no one else would contribute to the pre-dinner snacks, I went all out and put out quite the spread!

My go-to hors d'oeuvre happens to be one that is rather seasonal, and best enjoyed in the late-summer, early fall months. (If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ve by now garnered that it must include tomatoes!) I won’t disappoint, it does, and it is my version of bruschetta. There are so many different versions of this bite-sized treat. My take on bruschetta is the simple, yet delicious ingredients of a Insalata Caprese on top of a crostini. While I’ll admit to making this recipe year-round, the fresh ingredients are the star, and it tastes best when you’re using fresh baked bread, basil picked from the garden, tomatoes from the farmers’ market, and fresh mozzarella made that morning. I prefer to purchase my baguette and mozzarella from Zingerman’s, although your local grocery store should stock fresh mozzarella (check the deli section), along with a fresh baguette. Roma tomatoes are the perfect size to slice and place on top of your baguette rounds, but if I’m at the market, I’ll buy whatever kind of tomato looks the ripest and then cut the slices accordingly.

This is a huge crowd pleaser. I’ll put these out at a party, before a meal, and on an occasional summer night (like tonight!) I’ll make a platter and my husband and I will call it dinner. If you happen to have any leftovers – albeit highly unlikely – pop them in a 350°F oven for about 8 minutes. The cheese will melt and the bread will regain it’s crusty texture. It is a completely different snack that is equally delicious!

Kate’s Tomato Bruschetta
* 1 fresh French baguette, sliced into small ½ inch rounds
* 4-5 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced (amount depends on the size of your tomatoes)
* ¼ cup fresh Basil leaves, thinly sliced
* 8 oz. fresh Mozzarella, drained, patted dry, and thinly sliced
* Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
* Sea Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place sliced baguette on large baking sheet and drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, until bread is golden and firm, but not burnt. Allow bread to cool for several minutes. Top bread with one slice of tomato, each. Sprinkle with sea salt. Top bread with one slice of mozzarella each, and sprinkle with basil. Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and serve.

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