This recipe features what is perhaps the most classic combination of ingredients in Italian cooking. Fresh tomatoes, sweet basil, garlic and olive oil are all brought together as a topping for slices of lightly toasted bread. A small amount of lemon zest adds a fun and interesting flavor to this otherwise very simple dish. Though I am not at all a fan of raw tomatoes, I find them absolutely addictive when served this way. I make this appetizer all summer long when tomatoes are in season. You can use any type tomatoes that you can find for this dish as long as they are perfectly ripened, beautiful in color, and rich in flavor.
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1 baguette
1/4 cup, plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
5 to 6 ripe tomatoes
salt and pepper
a good handful of fresh basil

Cooking Instructions

Slice the baguette on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick pieces (depending on the size of your baguette, you should end up with 15 to 20 slices). Pour 1/4 cup of the olive oil into a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush each slice of bread lightly on both sides with the olive oil. Place the slices one layer thick on a baking sheet. Toast in a 350 degree oven, turning once during cooking, until they are golden on both sides (about 7 to 8 minutes per side). Set aside to cool on cooling racks.

In a medium bowl, mix the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil with the garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice. Cut the tomatoes in half and pull out the core and the seeds. Coarsely dice the tomatoes, add to the bowl, and mix to combine with the other ingredients thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Note: This dish can easily be made a day ahead. The flavors will even become more intense overnight. If you want to make this dish a day ahead, stop here, cover the tomato mixture with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving. You can keep the toasts in sealable plastic bags overnight (make sure they have cooled thoroughly before putting them in the bags, however, or they will steam in their own heat and lose some of their crispness.)

Just before serving, cut the basil leaves into thin slivers or tear into small pieces. Add the basil to the tomato mixture and toss to mix. To serve, place a generous spoonful of the tomato topping onto each toast. Serve garnished with leftover basil or lemon zest.

Makes 15 to 20 bruschetta



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Depending on what type of tomatoes you use, you may need more or less than this recipe calls for. If your tomatoes are small, increase the amount to 8 or 9.

Always wait until just before serving to add the tomato topping to the toasts. If the bruschetta sits for too long with the topping on, the bread may become soggy.

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