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Saturday, May 23, 2015

After yet another rare Saturday off from work, I started the day off at the Dane County Farmers' Market.  I got my usual cream cheese Danish from Stella's and then kept my eye out for what looked good for lunch.  Right away I saw one of my favorite bakeries (Madison Sourdough) in their usual spot across the street from the crowds.  After a minute of scanning the selection, I ended up picking up a picture perfect baguette and returned back to the Square.

As was the case last week, rhubarb, asparagus, and [the last of the] morels took the spotlight, but I also noticed quite a few stands highlighting several varieties of tomatoes.  After a second lap around the Capitol, I bought a small basket of red, orange, yellow, green, and purple cherry tomatoes (someone must have bought all of the blue ones, hah!).  I gave them a taste test right away, and you could immediately tell the quality difference compared to standard grocery store varieties.  They were firm but ripe, had a pleasant earthy taste to them, and had the perfect balance between acidity and natural sweetness.  With these two ingredients in the bag, I knew it was only right to highlight spring and summer flavors and make some killer bruschetta.

As is true with essentially every Italian staple, the beauty of bruschetta is that few, but quality ingredients get the chance to shine in a simplistic but impressive way.  Combine what could arguably be the best bread and tomatoes in Dane county with some fresh Wisconsin mozzarella, fresh basil, and olive oil, and you've got the perfect spring or summer dish.  In fact...to stress how easy this recipe is, I've chosen not to use amounts next to the ingredients; it's all up to you!  As long as the ingredients are good on their own, there's nothing to worry about.


Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Tomatoes, diced
Red onion, finely diced
Garlic, minced
Fresh basil, chiffonaded
Freshly ground black pepper and Kosher salt
Balsamic reduction
Extra-virgin olive oil


Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Slice the baguette on a bias into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Brush with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until crisp, roughly 10 minutes.  [Side note:  For a fun summer twist, throw your bread on the grill rather than in the oven].  Once crisp, top each piece with mozzarella and cook for several more minutes until the cheese is melted.  Remove from the oven and reserve.

In a mixing bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, and basil.  Add enough olive oil to coat everything and gently toss with your hands.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spoon a generous amount of this mixture onto each slice of toasted bread.  Drizzle some balsamic and extra-virgin olive oil on top and serve immediately.

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