Last Days of Summer: Mixed Bruschetta

Yes, I know that I’ve been talking a lot about fall and how I’m ready for summer to be over. But the weather was beautiful yesterday and when I took a friend to the open market in Catania, there were still so many beautiful tomatoes and fresh herbs that it made me want to hold on to summer for just a little while longer. So, if you still have access to some tomatoes, let’s make one of my all-time favorite appetizers…Bruschetta!
I’m sure that no matter where you live, most of you have tasted bruschetta in one form or another. The original bruschetta is from central Italy and consists of nothing more than grilled bread rubbed with cut garlic and topped with olive oil, salt and pepper. But the version that seems to be most popular around the world includes diced tomatoes, garlic and any number of additional ingredients. It seems that you can put just about anything on a little toasted round of bread and it tastes wonderful!
The bruschetta that I have started making since moving to Sicily is topped with a mixture of chopped cherry tomatoes, garlic, basil, crushed red pepper, olive oil, salt and pepper and just a tiny splash of balsamic vinegar. You can use any kind of Italian or french bread as long as you slice it and either grill it or toast it under the broiler on both sides. It’s a simple appetizer that always tastes amazing.
Today for lunch I decided to experiment with a couple of new flavors in my bruschetta. I ended up making three versions: my original (bruschetta al pomodoro), a Greek-inspired version (bruschetta greca), and a Mexican-inspired version (bruschetta messicana). I loved them all so I can’t tell you which one tastes best. I guess you will have to try them yourself and see what you think!
I am not giving exact amounts of anything so here’s what I suggest: Depending on how much bread you are going to toast, cut up an amount of tomatoes that you think will be enough to mound on the bread slices. Then add the other ingredients a little at a time, tasting often, until you come up with a flavor you like. If you don’t have enough, make more :-)
I always make the topping before toasting the bread so that the flavors can mingle and a nice amount of juice can collect in the bottom of the bowl while it sits for a few minutes. When you put the topping on the bread, spoon on that extra juice so that the bread can soak it up.
Here are the ingredients for the three bruschetta toppings:

Bruschetta al Pomodoro
Cherry tomatoes, diced
Fresh garlic, minced
Fresh basil, minced
Crushed red pepper (just a pinch)
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar (just a dash)
Pinch of salt

Bruschetta Messicana
Cherry tomatoes, diced
Red onion, minced
Fresh cilantro, minced
Fresh jalapeno, minced
A squeeze of fresh lime juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of Salt

Bruschetta Greca
Cherry tomatoes, diced
Fresh garlic, minced
Black olives, sliced
Feta cheese, crumbled or diced
Fresh oregano, minced (or substitute dried)
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of Salt
Fresh Ground pepper


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