Tomato Bruschetta - Tomato Fresca with Basil, in Green Onion and Lemon
Again we have a happy happenstance mon amis! My dearest Valued Readers - this lovely little lovely came about as the result of a visit from the Grainger County Tomato Fairy.
Let me explain a bit - I live in East Tennessee, not far down the road from Grainger County. Now Grainger County produces the most unbelievable tomatoes on the planet - bar none. Keep in mind I absolutely DESPISE raw tomatoes - I just hate everything about them. Taste and texture, the smell, the mouthfeel - as a foodie, and an East Tennessean, this is hard to admit. But I don't like them. Period.
BUT - a Grainger County tomato is so far and above an average tomato that it's almost a different vegetable. A few weeks ago they came into season - and a little man came knocking at the door to ask if I wanted to buy some. I bought a ton out of the back of his truck - which smelled of red clay, sunshine and thunder. A chefy friend was at my house, and bit into one like an apple. When his eyes rolled back in his head, I also took a bite, and was transfixed. I only did it because I believe in tasting ingredients, even the ones I don't like, in order to understand what the flavors are as they develop as you work with them. I was overjoyed, and ended up eating several, with the juice running down my arms and dripping off my elbows.
Other than the memories of walking my grandfather's garden, he with a little salt shaker in his pocket, tasting vegetables to determine their perfection for picking, I've rarely had a stronger culinary memory. This dish celebrates the amazing freshness of summer tomatoes - I wanted the other ingredients to highlight the tomato - elevate it on a pedestal if you will. I think it worked out just exactly 'so'. The crunch of the crostini, the pop of the additional acid, the sweet bite of basil - oh yeah y'all. Make a double batch.
For the crostini, slice 1 small loaf of French bread on the diagonal, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes - sometimes longer - until golden brown and crispy through - almost like a crouton. Be patient, and let the bread get crunchy throughout. Something happens that's almost buttery, but without the heaviness of butter - which would compete with the tomatoes to come.
For the bruschetta -
3 very ripe tomatoes, diced
4 small green onions, including green tops, diced
1 clove garlic - mashed to paste with a tiny bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt
2 tbl capers, drained, but not rinsed
1 good big handful of fresh basil, about a cup or so, cut in chiffonade
the juice of 1 large lemon
kosher salt to taste
freshly cracked black pepper
Mix all that together, and chill for at least an hour. Top each crostini with 3-4 Tbl of the tomato fresca - if you want, and have good Parmegiana, shave a touch over the top of each bruschetta after you assemble.
- The Thrillbilly Gourmet
Combining classic technique with everyday food for spectacular results!
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