Six weeks ago to the day, my day job came to an end. It was really the best thing to have happened – irrespective of these very troubling times. I needed a break- pure and simple – and I had great plans to dedicate much more time to Love The Kitchen. Instead I switched off my computer and had the nearest thing to a digital detox I have ever had (ok, not 100%, but as close as possible). Having spent 10+ hours a day glued to a desk for years, I just needed to stop and deal with everything else which had been on my back burner. I must have been in denial – there was so much to do, and the real win for me is that Marlini has managed to leave the ridiculously overpriced crap pit she was renting in London, and relocated all her kit and caboodle. The journey is not over as we still have a lot of stuff to sort, but our life is now all under one roof in our home in West Yorkshire. We continues to cook, create, and try and come up with our own variation of dishes we would have typically enjoyed in a restaurant pre-covid. This quick and simple Tomato Bruschetta with Chilli recipe is just one of them.
During the lock-down, I was really fortunate enough to have success with making sourdough bread (loaf 30 came out of the oven last night), and as I bake two loaves per week I was in need of more options to enjoy the sourdough with. Marlini had the excellent idea to make Bruschetta, and after a bit of tweaking this recipe was born. It should come as no surprise that the slight twist to the more classic recipe is the addition of chilli – it seems to be our signature….chilli with anything these day- applying a degree of heat to much of what we cook and enjoy to eat at home.
I also need to make a slight confession – technically, this version is not a classic Bruschetta. The name originates from the Italian ‘Bruscare‘ meaning to roast over coal, and as I do not own a barbecue (or similar) I will have to make do with what is in the kitchen. Secondly, and this is where my ignorance comes to light, I thought until recently that name Bruschetta was the the combination of both grilled bread and topping. However, traditionally it only refers to the grilled bread itself, leaving numerous variations to the choice of toppings (tomato, vegetable, cured meats, beans, cheese etc). The quick option is to simple lightly toast the sourdough bread, but if you have more time, you could dry toast the bread in a hot pan or griddle. It is really up to you. If you have a ridged griddle pan, get this up to a high heat, the drizzle or brush a little olive oil then griddle one side, turn over, then griddle the other side. You can rub a clove of garlic over the griddled surface too for additional flavour. I have only made this with lightly toasted sourdough bread and it works really well.
Now that the world it set to rights where the bread element of this dish is concerned, I cannot overemphasise how important tomatoes are to the topping. This is one ingredient you really cannot skimp on. Who would have thought it is possible to grow tomatoes which lack the tomato taste? If interested, I highly recommend reading Big, Red and Tasteless: Why Tomatoes Lost Their Flavor – in short:
Ever wonder why most store-bought tomatoes are so tasteless? The answer (surprise, surprise) has to do with revenue: Tomato farmers care about yield, and the genetic variants associated with yield are not associated with tasty tomato flavors, a new study finds.
It is very rare that I will openly plug a supermarket but have to say the time after time, Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference range are my absolute favourite. Tomatoes taste of tomato. It is that simple. Sure, it is not the same experience as the fresh produce markets of Sicily or Turkey we visited, but consistently by far the best store-bought tomatoes available in the UK. The varieties I regularly buy are Vittoria, Majestic, Sundream and most recently Caramella Cherry Vine tomatoes. The latter have a slightly tougher skin, but I would urge you to try these and if possible, mix different varieties in your Bruschetta topping.
I really hope that you enjoy this tomato Bruschetta with chilli recipe. It has been something we tend to whip up on a weekly basis.
Tomato Bruschetta with Chilli
- 3 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic finely grated
- 1 medium red onion finely diced
- 250 g vine tomatoes (mixed variety) stalk end removed, then diced
- 1 red chilli finely diced
- 5-6 large fresh basil leaves finely shredded
- 1/2 tsp sea salt coarsely ground
- black pepper freshly ground
- 2-3 thick slices sourdough bread griddled or lightly toasted
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and finely grated garlic, and whisk thoroughly.
- Add the finely diced red onion, red chilli, and diced tomatoes and mix well with sallad servers or a large metal spoon.
- Sprinkle over sea salt and shredded basil leaves, grind fresh black pepper over the mixture, and mix again.
- Cover bowl with cling film and refrigerate for 60-90 minutes.
- Just before serving, lightly toast 2-3 thick slices of sourdough bread and cut into bit sized pieces. Place over the bottom of the serving bowls.
- Remove the tomato mixture from fridge, stir thoroughly, then carefully spoon the dressing over the lightly toasted sourdough. Then spoon the remaining mixture over the dressing-drenched sourdough.
- Garnish with basil leaves, a drizzle of olivie oil, and freshly ground pepper