If there is anything I’ve learned over the years about food it is that tastebuds are the strangest things. Something you may have been obsessed with as a kid is now just a normal food, or something that you hated as a kid is now one of your favorites. Each year for Christmas, my siblings and I exchange small gifts on Christmas Eve. They are nothing elaborate (usually $5-$10 to accommodate the youngest’s high school budget) and they are most often some kind of weird toy or gag gift that we randomly found. Last year I gave one of my brothers a orange street cone from a thrift store (not quite sure why it was there in the first place), so this year he dug into my childhood keepsake box and wrapped up a poster that I had made at age 4. It was one of those “About Me” posters with things like what I wanted to be when I grew up, things I liked (pinatas?!), and things I didn’t like (spiders, duh). Scribbled in my illegible chicken scratch were a lot of things that were completely random, but there was one thing on that poster that literally make me shriek. Under the “Things I Don’t Like” category read, “Potatoes”. Guys, I almost fell to the ground when I read this. Potatoes, POTATOES? Did someone possess my four year old self when writing that? For those who know me, potatoes are like the golden ticket to life’s greatest happiness. Baked potatoes, hashbrowns, potato casserole, you name it and I’ll take it. But the funny thing about all of this is that I can remember not really caring for potatoes as a kid, but to hate them enough to put them on a poster? Now that makes me question my 4 year old sanity.
Now you may be thinking, “Well how the heck does that have anything to do with this recipe?” Well, it really doesn’t other than the fact that tomatoes were another one of these weird dislikes as a kid. It really wasn’t until I studied abroad in Italy in college that I really started to gain a liking to tomatoes. It probably had 50% to do with the fact that Roman tomatoes are about 100% better than the ones I get at the grocery store, and about 50% to do with the fact that when you eat something everyday, you tend to start liking it.
And even after two years of being home, every time I have bruschetta I am brought right back to those patio restaurants with motorini engines zooming by at every angle. But up until this point, I hadn’t tried making it at home, so I decided to give it a try and make it a little festive for Valentine’s Day appetizers.
If you’ve never made bruschetta before, it really is a simple task. I sliced some tomatoes, cut out the shapes with a tiny heart cookie cutter, and then chopped the scraps into little tomato bits to toss in the bowl. Toast some bread, add in some basil and olive oil, and you have yourself a easy topping for this decadent toast.
And because my love for garlic is also at its peak, I brushed the bread with a garlic/olive oil blend before toasting for some extra Italian flavor. Within 20 minutes, I had a light lunch appetizer that cured any Rome-sick feelings I may have had (romesick = homesick).
- 3-4 Roma tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dry basil more or less to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 baguette French bread or similar Italian bread
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic crushed and minced
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- To create the heart shapes: slice 3 tomatoes in about 1/2 inch thick slices and cut out hearts with cookie cutter. I got about 4 hearts out of one tomato, but you can cut out as many as you'd like.
- After cutting out the shapes, take the scrap tomatoes and chop them into small bits. When you have about 1 cup of diced tomatoes (you may need to dice the fourth tomato), put them in a medium sized bowl and add 1 teaspoon of dry basil, salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil (you may need to add more olive oil if your mixture is not well coated). Set bowl aside.
- Using a serrated knife, slice the bread in thick slices (1/2 - 3/4 inch) and place on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon olive oil and 3/4 teaspoon crushed garlic. Using a pastry brush, brush mixture on top of each slice of bread and bake at 450 degrees for 4-8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned (this time can vary depending on ovens & type of bread, so keep a close eye on the oven to prevent burning).
- Once edges are lightly browned, remove from oven and top each slice with about 1 tablespoon of the tomato mixture.
- To finish, insert a toothpick into each tomato heart and poke into the top of each slice. Serve & enjoy!
So I’d love to hear, what is one food that you despised as a kid but love now (or vice versa)?