As we head into summer, everything takes sweeter and brighter. Now is the perfect time for bruschetta, simply dressed toasts that highlight the chopped produce piled on top. Classic bruschetta features chopped tomatoes, garlic, and basil, but I take it one step further by adding strawberries into the mix. Marinated with the rest of the ingredients, they contribute sweetness without lending a strong strawberry flavor. This is a savory appetizer, so don’t let the berries fool you into serving it for dessert.
If you serve this bruschetta without mentioning the strawberries, you will find guests asking where you found such deliciously sweet tomatoes. Rather than highlighting the contrast between the ingredients, I stick to red tomatoes so that the chopped pieces blend together, relying on ribbons of fresh basil for a confetti-like touch.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
7 Campari tomatoes
5 medium strawberries
12 large basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
½ loaf of crusty bread or baguette
Begin by mincing 1 garlic clove. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and saute the minced garlic until it starts to sizzle and become fragrant. Remove from the heat as soon as the garlic is about to turn golden and set aside.
While the garlic oil is cooling, seed the tomatoes and hull the strawberries. Roughly chop the produce and place in a medium bowl. Chiffonade the basil leaves by stacking them, rolling them tightly, and cutting crosswise into thin strips. When you scatter the basil over the tomato and strawberry mixture, they will separate into ribbons. Drizzle the room temperature garlic oil on top and season with a small amount of salt. You will season the mixture again before serving, so it’s best not to overdo the salt at this stage.
Now comes the hard part. Wait 2 hours for the flavors to meld.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice the bread into ½ inch slices and brush each side with olive oil. Places the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden and toasted. Immediately after removing from the oven, cut the remaining garlic clove in half and rub the cut side on the hot bread. The slices will soak in the flavor and become delicious garlicky toasts.
Taste the tomato and strawberry mixture again and give it a final seasoning with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Top each slice with the mixture and serve immediately, making sure to spoon some of the extra juices over each slice.