If you’ve ever been to Tuscany, you know that the sunlight is different there. It splashes amber rays across the hills and cypress trees, tingles on your skin like warm honey, soaks the edges of your vision in a fuzzy golden hue. It’s as if the sky is determined to set Tuscany’s beauty aglow, drenching it in pure, 100 percent, unfiltered sunshine.
I love reliving that Tuscan sunshine in my own kitchen using the best sun-ripened tomatoes I can find, especially at the height of summer. To me, some oven-toasted slices of rustic bread drizzled with good olive oil and topped with ruby-red chopped tomatoes, fresh basil, minced garlic, and a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper — this is Tuscany on a plate.
Bruschetta is not only a perfect summer appetizer, it is also loaded with potential cancer-fighting properties in the tomatoes, the garlic, and the olive oil. In Eating on the Wild Side, Jo Robinson recommends choosing smaller varieties of tomatoes like cherry tomatoes, letting garlic sit for 10 minutes after you’ve chopped it, and using unfiltered olive oil (the cloudy type) to get the most nutrition and cancer-fighting power. The basil here also adds another dimension of goodness with its antioxidant properties. Delicious food like this is good for the body and soul.
Tuscan Cherry Tomato Bruschetta
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Mince a few cloves of garlic and set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, quarter about 30 cherry tomatoes and chop a handful of basil; mix together in a large bowl the tomatoes, garlic, basil, a sprinkle of sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Let mixture sit while you work on the bread.
Cut a baguette or other crusty bread into 1/3- to 1/2-inch slices, brush both sides lightly with (regular extra virgin) olive oil, and lay each slice flat on a baking sheet in one layer. Toast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Serve on a platter, drizzling the toasted bread again with (good quality, unfiltered) olive oil, topping with the tomatoes, and adding one final pinch of sea salt. Serves about 4.