This kitchen experiment was inspired by an appetizer I had at my birthday dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe earlier this year. They're turning all of 40 this year, did you know? I turned not-40 and was blown away by their bruschetta.
The secret to their dish is that they marinate the tomatoes in balsamic vinegar. Delicious, sour balsamic vinegar. Mmmm.
Ever since learning to turn tomatoes into raisins, I've been wanting to see how that would work in bruschetta. Balsamic-soaked, roasted grape tomatoes are perfect on their own. Throw them in salads, sandwiches, eat them by the handful. But marry them with cilantro and shallots, then add them to grilled bread? Hot. Damn.
Growing up here in not-Italy, I was under the impression that bruschetta is the toppings on the toasty bread. Turns out that's not true. The word bruschetta is derived from the Italian word that means to roast over coals. So those bottles labeled bruschetta are both lying to you and cheating you out of a really great fresh toasted and roasted dish. Don't buy them. Make this instead.
First you roast tomatoes, then marinate them in balsamic vinegar and a bit of olive oil overnight. Or, if you're like me and dare to forget they're in the fridge, let them sit for a week! Hell, just store them in the balsamic after cooking. You can reduce the marinade later and use it as a glaze or salad dressing.
Once you've waited long enough for the tomatoes soak up their tasty sourness, chop up a shallot and some cilantro. Mix them all in the the marinade. Then toast some sliced crusty bread and rub it with garlic. Top with a good Parmesan or an Italian truffle cheese. Enjoy your sexy dish.
Then stuff it in your pie hole.
- 1 large French dinner roll (or any crusty bread)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup roasted grape tomatoes, soaked in balsamic marinade
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Italian truffle cheese
Yield: 5-6 slices