Thus far, I’ve only talked about being a foodie, but hopefully after this post you won’t have to take my word for it anymore. I wanted to start by sharing something simple and delicious. As I’m sure you’ve noticed from my Sunday series I love things that are simple. For those who don’t yet know, I also love Italian food and cheese. This dish is traditionally served as an appetizer, but I’ve come to consider it a meal in itself. It’s so yummy I tend to eat my fill, so I’ve decided when I make it to just call it dinner. The only thing I would add is a glass of wine.
Bruschetta is a very straight-forward thing to make with only a few ingredients: tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper. I’m very fortunate to have a father who gardens so I made this at his house with his gorgeous home-grown tomatoes and freshly picked basil. Maybe I’m spoiled, but there really is no substitute for ingredients straight from the garden! In fact if the tomatoes aren’t up to par, I’d rather bake them on a pizza than eat them fresh. I believe in quality over quantity when it comes to cooking. Which is to say if you’re working with fresh quality ingredients, you don’t need to add a lot of sugar or spice to make it nice.
More often than not, when I order bruschetta at a restaurant it is served with focaccia. I do love soft bread, but when I make this dish at home I prefer something a little sturdier. I always use slices of fresh ciabatta to make crostini. I enjoy the bit of crispiness and find it holds up well to all the cheese and bruschetta I pile upon it.
Burrata is maybe, almost definitely, my new favorite cheese (if only you only knew how difficult it is for me to choose only one favorite)! It is very similar to fresh mozzarella. Actually, the shell is made of fresh mozzarella and the creamy middle part is a mixture of fresh mozzarella and cream. The result is a very light, very creamy cheese. The flavor is light and delicate and pairs well with the toasted bread above (even without the bruschetta). I like to drizzle it with a little olive oil and top it with freshly ground black pepper. Like most cheese, it is meant to be served at room temperature, so I usually let it sit with the olive oil and pepper while I prepare the bruschetta and crostini.
When it’s ready to eat, I spread some burrata on a piece of crostini and then top it with the bruschetta. I prefer slightly larger tomato chunks and thicker strips of basil, but it all depends on taste. I also love strong garlic flavor, so I used chopped raw garlic. If you like a softer, sweeter garlic flavor, I suggest you mince your garlic then sautée it with some olive oil for a few minutes before adding it to the chopped tomatoes. If you don’t mind skipping the garlic and are looking for an even simpler dish, you can simply slice the tomatoes and top with whole basil leaves. This is a great vegetarian dish, and if you’re vegan you can simply skip the burrata. For those who are gluten-free, you would obviously need to choose a gluten-free bread, but you could even skip the bread and take a fork to it. Another reason I love simple recipes is that you can easily substitute or skip things to accommodate different dietary restrictions. Any way you slice it I think these few simple ingredients were made for each other.
What is your favorite simple meal? Do have a favorite seasonal dish?