Even though it’s officially fall, some of us are still harvesting tomatoes. Vine-ripened tomatoes make an amazing base for dips or spreads, with authentic recipes in both Italian and Mexican cuisines.
Bruschetta is a classic Italian appetizer that was originally used to made something delicious out of stale bread. The Italians would toast or grill the bread, rub it with garlic and top it with olive oil and salt. Wherever there was an abundance of tomatoes, bruschetta was served with chopped tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil or oregano and olive oil.
Unless specified otherwise, ordering bruschetta in an Italian restaurant often means this tomato version instead of the basic garlic-and-oil type.
1 pound chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 ½ teaspoons garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
balsamic glaze (optional)
Drain the juice off of the chopped tomatoes and toss them in a bowl with all the ingredients except balsamic glaze. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, then use as a topping on the bruschetta toast. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.
To make bruschetta toast:
½ of baguette
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
Parmesan cheese (shredded or grated) for topping
Mix the minced garlic with the olive oil and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400˚F and place the rack in the center of the oven. Cut toasts into 1/2” thick slices, slicing diagonally. Dip a brush into the olive oil garlic mixture and brush on both sides of the toast before placing on a baking sheet. Top with Parmesan cheese to taste.
Bake for around 5 minutes, or until the bottom of the toast is golden brown. Then broil on high heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
This next recipe is a Mexican classic. Because the red tomato, white onion, green chili and cilantro share the colors of the Mexican flag, it is also sometimes called flag sauce.
Pico Di Gallo
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup green onions, finely chopped
1 — 2 tablespoons chopped jalapeño, seeds removed
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Juice of 1 lime
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients until well combined. Tastes best if you let sit 15 minutes before serving. Most commonly served with tortilla chips.
Pico also makes an excellent topping for tacos, burrito fillings, quesadillas, and salads. Toss into eggs, mac and cheese, or grilled shrimp for added tanginess.
Great topping for a chicken or cheeseburger, along with melted cheddar and avocado. To make other dips, mix it into sour cream and garnish with chives, or mash up an avocado with a spoonful for a quick guacamole fix.
Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with NC Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. firstname.lastname@example.org (828)264-3061.