I almost called this post, “Quit playin’ games with my heart….weather.” I mean, 2 weeks ago, it froze hard. I came straight home from school, went out to my garden to bring in everything that could freeze and die if left outside….the tomatoes that were even slightly pink at the time, the eggplants, a giant bag of bell peppers, and almost all the herbs (I left a few out to see how they’d do).
After all that, it was summer again. I got out my skirts and sandals, sat in my lawn chair after school, and harvested more tomatoes than I’d had in all of August and September combined. Glorious. (P.S. Aren’t these tomatoes pretty? They somehow came from my ailing garden. In October.)
I was teaching my 1st grade reading class about imperative, or command, sentences. Each kid got a chance to get up in front of the class and tell the whole class what to do.
At first, the imperatives were easy: Stand up. Read a book. Sit in a chair. Then, they started to get smart: Roll around. Jump 5 times. Dance like a robot. And then Yonis, the Dennis the Menace of the Somali community, so lovable in his mischief, had a turn. After a pause and a smirk, with a gleam in his eye, he said…
“Everyone, go out to recess. Right now.”
The class froze…and then erupted in cheers as I grabbed my keys and walked them outside for the best 2-minute recess of their young lives. By the time we were walking back in, they were all shivering, saying, “Ms. Leez, it’s freeeeeeeeezing.” It was awesome.
So, in a very uncarpeseason-like act, I made a summery meal with all my late-blooming tomatoes. Eric and I made bruschetta in utter defiance of the wind and chill. Guys, bruschetta is the best. It should be your go-to meal if it isn’t already. It takes about 20 minutes to throw together, less if you have help. It’s super fresh, full of basil goodness, and flexible.
Here’s the rules:
1. Find your local bakery (here’s ours) and get a fresh baguette. (Ciabatta’s worked in a pinch too).
2. Don’t forget the cheese. Feta. Parmesan. Mozzarella. Cream Cheese. All good choices.
3. Eat bruschetta and only bruschetta for your meal. Throw the leftovers in a pasta the next day.
4. Find someone to kiss with your garlic breath. You will be feared.
(adapted from simplyrecipes.com)
(yields 3-4 cups of bruschetta, or enough to feed 3-4 people as a meal)
The original recipe I used from Simply Recipes is simply a skeleton. Do what you want with your bruschetta. Love onions? Chop them up, and throw them in. Want to try some rosemary in there? Invite me over to try it. From the original recipe, I doubled the garlic, almost doubled the balsamic vinegar, tripled the basil, and of course, added cheese to the mix. Make this, and make good use of what's left of the tomatoes.
12 or so ripe roma tomatoes, chopped (I always throw out the cores)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2.5 tsp. or just under 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar
20 fresh basil leaves (this is maybe a 1/4-1/3 packed cup), chopped
sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 baguette or Italian bread
1/4 c. additional extra virgin olive oil
Cheese: Either a 1/2 c. shredded parmesan, shredded mozzarella, crumbled feta, or cream cheese. The cheese choice is yours.
Preheat oven to 450* and put oven on very top rack.
Combine chopped tomatoes, basil, and garlic with balsamic vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Let it sit for a while so all those flavors have some time to get to know each other. Do not refrigerate before meal...refrigeration kills tomato-ey goodness. But put the leftovers in the frig.
Cut the baguette into 1/4-1/2 inch slices. Place the bread on a cookie sheet (I always put foil down first). Brush bread slices with the 1/4 c. olive oil. Sprinkle the garlic salt over the oiled side of the bread. Then, flip each piece over so that the oil side is down.
If using mozzarella or paremesan, bake bread slices for about 3 minutes. Then remove bread from oven, flip bread back over (so oil side is up) and sprinkle cheese on each piece. Then put back on the oven for an additional minute.
If using cream cheese, bake the bread for 4 minutes, then remove and spread cream cheese on slices when cool enough to handle.
Finally, if using feta, bake bread for 4 minutes, then remove from oven. Mix feta into the bruschetta mixture and spread on top.
Eat this by itself. Or with a salad. But especially with a glass of red wine.