So several years back, I had the opportunity to visit Toronto. I absolutely fell in love with the place. We walked everywhere, until we discovered on our last day there, that you could ride one of those underground train things. Too late! We had already hiked across many miles of this wonderful city – good thing too! There were so many indescribably delicious eateries around our hotel- we needed the exercise! There was a little Italian place nearby, that, while sitting at its trellis-covered-patio with cobblestone underfoot, you would swear you were nowhere near North America! The little round Italian chef didn’t have a menu and would cook anything you asked for while his pet cat rubbed on your ankles under the table. Every restaurant in Toronto had one thing in common – bruschetta!
In our short time there, we had several variations of this delectable treat. One fresh baked mini-loaf rested atop a bed of fruity olive oil with tomatoes and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano sprinkled liberally over it’s crust. Others had a hint of tangy balsamic vinegar mixed into the tomatoes and topped toasted baguettes.
Upon returning home, I missed bruschetta and walked into each ordinary restaurant in town accusingly looking at the somehow lacking menu. I began to experiment with recipes and came up with one I think is seriously addicting. Let’s start!
The ingredients of love: extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, kosher salt, pepper, garlic, green onion, roma tomatoes, fresh basil and a loaf of crusty french bread.
Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Take your french bread (I used the $1 version from Wal-Mart, but don’t tell the food snobs!) and slice it into rounds. Place them evenly on a foiled cookie sheet and drizzle or brush lightly with olive oil. Place in the oven for around 10 minutes or until tops are lightly golden brown. Remember to set a timer! You’ll be busy!
Now for the dressing! Dump in 2 T. of Balsamic vinegar in the bottom of a medium bowl.
.Now measure and stir in: 2 t. sugar, 1/2 t. kosher salt. PLEASE buy a box of Kosher salt, you’ll never go back! But if you don’t want to trek to the store just for salt, regular table salt will do just fine! Now add 1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper (around 10 cranks of the mill), or just dump in regular pepper, it’ll work! Take a whisk and mix it up REAL good until the sugar has dissolved into the vinegar.
Then take 1/2 c. of olive oil and slowly drizzle it into the vinegar, whisking like crazy the entire time. This is called emulsifying and it means that your mixture will thicken without a big layer of oil floating on top of your vinegar!
Your dressing is done! Set it aside and pull out your cutting board. I seriously need to get a pretty wooden one cuz the white isn’t showing good in these pictures! But, that’s how we roll here in the real world!
It’s time to chop your roma tomatoes. Begin by slicing them in half longways. Remember that flat surfaces are your best friends when dicing anything. Turn the tomatoes over so the flat surface is down and slice them long ways into thin slices. OH, and at this point, please try not to slice the end of your finger like I did so you don’t have to try to hide the Band-Aid in all the rest of the pictures! Thank you!
Next, rotate your tomatoes 90 degrees and slice them evenly the other way. You should now have perfectly diced tomatoes! I know this is a little informative, but I wish I had a food blogger years ago show me how to properly dice things – it’s so much quicker!
Continue slicing the remaining 3 tomatoes and dump them in your bowl.
Now grab 2 green onions and lop the root ends off. I always peel the outermost layer of the green onion off, as it tends to be a little tough. Slice them thinly cross ways, the white and the green parts, and toss them in the bowl as well. (note: thanks to my husband for taking pictures while I chop!)
Next take 4 large fresh basil leaves and roll them up long-ways like a cigar.
Line them up evenly and slice across them until you have thin ribbons of basil. Are you ready for another big culinary word? This is a chiffonade! AND You really must use fresh basil in this recipe or you will be disappointed. It’s worth it! By the way, please, please, please buy a 3 dollar basil plant at your local garden center this spring and plant it outside in a sunny location. It will save you mucho dollars over the summer. Those expensive boxed herbs at the grocery store just really tick me off! But, I digress…you should have about 1-2 heaping tablespoons of the basil. Toss it into the bowl! .
Now take a clove of garlic. Place it on your cutting board and taking a large knife, lay it over top of the garlic and give it a good smash with your hand.
The peel will come right off! Finely chop your garlic or use one of these (one of my favorite kitchen gadgets).
My mom gave me this garlic press and I love her every day for it!
Add the 2 cloves of garlic to your mixture in the bowl. Gently stir with a spoon until everything is evenly distributed.