Tomato Bruschetta

Like so many of Italy’s best dishes, bruschetta owes its origins to la cucina povera, whose customary marriage of frugality and ingenuity among Italy’s peasant class dictated that nothing edible ever be tossed out. In the case of bruschetta, stale bread is made over to something not just edible but really tasty, by the mere act of toasting and topping with quality ingredients like sun-ripened, organic tomatoes and an impeccable extra virgin olive oil.

Basic bruschetta is remarkably simple, comprised of a toasted (or grilled) slice of bread – preferably a rustic, hardy kind such as Tuscan or Pugliese – rubbed with fresh garlic while still warm, then drizzled with olive oil and dusted with salt and pepper. In many places, the custom is to brush these ingredients on both sides of the toasted bread, making for a seriously heady flavor experience and rather messy fingers.

4 large slices of bread, such as rustic
14 ounces tomatoes
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves
4-5 basil leaves, plus more to garnish
Sea salt & freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Dice the tomatoes and place in a large strainer. Salt the tomatoes generously and thoroughly combine to coat all the tomatoes with salt.

Place the strainer on a plate or in a bowl and allow to rest for 15–20 minutes, jostling occasionally to encourage the liquids to expel. While not fundamental, this step firms up the tomato flesh and facilitates the release of the slippery pulp and seeds.

Most of the salt will rinse away. If you skip this step, salt accordingly when you add the other ingredients to the tomato.

Dump the excess liquid away and gently shake the strainer (over the sink) to filter out the seeds. Removing all of the seeds is nearly impossible, but most of them will come away.

Taste a piece of the tomato. If still too salty, sprinkle with a small amount of water and shake again.

Transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl and add the olive oil. Tear in the basil leaves and finely grate in ½ to 1 garlic clove. Grind in some black pepper (optional) and combine thoroughly.

Grill or toast the bread slices until golden on both sides. Scoop the tomato onto each slice and garnish with additional basil. For an extra kick, rub the slices with the second garlic clove before adding the tomato.

Buon appetito!

This recipe was first published courtesy of Eataly Magazine.