A friend of mine has been extolling the wonders and deliciousness of a particular empanada stand at the Century City Farmer’s Market (for locals, it’s on Thursday mornings/early afternoon). And while I’ve been meaning to go for a while, I kept putting it off for some reason or another. Anyhow, we finally made our way out to said farmer’s market last week for these famous empanadas… and guess what? The fryer is broken! What a bummer.
Oh well–we were already at a farmer’s market and needed produce anyway, so we might as well take a gander at the local farm stands. Although people were starting to close up shop, we happened upon a particular stand with big, beautiful heirloom tomatoes with vivid colors. The perceptive grocer saw me stalling at the tomatoes and made me a fantastic deal… and the rest is history.
Before we left with our bounty, however, he warned me that he could only guarantee the quality and flavor of the tomatoes “for use either today or tomorrow” because of their ripeness. And the first thing that came to mind as I walked away was a delicious bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKET-ta)–minimal preparation on the tomatoes to really highlight their flavor.
Now, I know that heirloom tomatoes are far more expensive than their (genetically modified) counterparts. And technically, you can use plum tomatoes (or any old tomato, really) for bruschetta if you wish. But if you haven’t had an heirloom tomato yet, I highly suggest you try one. I’m not the biggest fan of tomatoes myself, and I love heirloom tomatoes. They are sweet, soft, and have a wild tang to them that you just can’t replicate using the other tomatoes available at most grocery stores. They are also notoriously hard to grow and don’t keep well, which drives up their price. But I can assure you–this is what tomatoes are supposed to taste like.
I looked up a few recipes online, then took what I liked from each one and made this recipe. The rubbing of the cut garlic on the bread slice in particular is my favorite aspect of it apart from using heirloom tomatoes; it imparts a strong garlic flavor without the unpleasantness of biting into a clove by accident. Overall, this bruschetta is sweet and tangy, with the raw garlic imparting a sharp flavor as you bite into the crusty bread. A harmonious mixture of soft tomatoes and crunchy, chewy baguette. I hope you like it!
Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta
- 2 heirloom tomatoes, washed
- one-half of a French baguette
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 8 fresh basil leaves
- kosher salt
- 2 peeled, cut cloves of garlic
- olive oil for brushing
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Dice the heirloom tomatoes into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a bowl.
- Roll the basil leaves into a tube length-wise (parallel to the stem), then cut perpendicular to the roll. (This is called a chiffonade technique–meaning ‘little rag’ in French.) Place the basil into the bowl with the tomatoes.
- Pour 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and 1 Tbsp. of balsamic vinegar into the bowl and mix well. Let the mixture sit for at least 15 minutes for flavor mingling. (I usually let it sit 30 minutes or more–my preference!)
- While you’re letting the tomatoes sit, slice the French baguette at an angle to allow more surface area for the tomatoes.
- Heat a frying pan or skillet to medium high.
- Brush one side of the baguette slices with olive oil using a pastry brush and place oil-side down onto the skillet.
- After 1-2 minutes, the baguette slices should be brown and crispy. Remove from the skillet and place oil-side up to cool down slightly.
- Rub the peeled, cut clove of garlic over the entire surface of the browned side of the baguette slice. If you’re not the biggest fan of garlic, brush lightly and toward the center. If you love it like we do, rub extra-hard around the crust!
- Using a slotted spoon, scoop up 2-3 Tbsp. of tomato mixture and place directly onto the baguette slice. Repeat for all of the slices you have until complete.
- Salt and pepper to taste, then serve immediately before the slices get soggy!