tomatoes

Easy Homemade Bruschetta

easy homemade bruschette

This time of year I’m always looking for ways to use up the last of our summer tomatoes. Last year I did some slow roasting and shared my experience making my own oven dried tomatoes, which turned out absolutely fantastic! But let’s be real, those babies took a pretty significant amount of time to make. And large blocks of time I rarely have.

If I’m being honest, my go-to tomato recipe year after year is this simple, classic bruschetta. It’s one of my favorite appetizers, and being able to make it using fresh picked tomatoes from my garden is the best! Although it ultimately signals the end of summer which is sad. At least there are always pumpkin treats to look forward to around the corner. (I already have a pumpkin treat coming up for you guys but in case you already have pumpkin fever and just can’t wait, you might wanna check out our pumpkin scones or mini pumpkin doughnut muffins from last fall! Yeah, yeah… SO “basic.” Whatever.)

what you need for bruschetta
Anyway, let’s get to the BRUSCHETTA! Yum.

You don’t need a whole lot to whip up this simple healthy dish, just some fresh ripe tomatoes, an onion, a couple cloves of garlic, olive oil, and Italian style herbs and spices. I use fresh thyme, dried basil, salt and pepper. You’ll also wanna pick up some good crusty bread to spoon it onto. All good stuff.

make bruschetta with fresh thyme

My secret to a really good tasting bruschetta is fresh thyme. We grow it in our garden but you can pick it up in the produce aisle as well. Can’t beat this stuff. It’s the perfect compliment to anything tomato and it smells incredible!

how to make homemade bruschetta

This isn’t the kind of recipe where I can give you exact amounts for anything, you just kinda have to taste as you go. I like to keep the ratio of tomato to onion something like 5 to 1…ish… but it’s really up to your own tastes! Dice up your tomatoes and onion nice and small, then mix those together. Finely dice your garlic cloves and throw that in there too.

spices to use in tomato bruschetta

Drizzle on a healthy amount of olive oil, then season with salt, pepper, basil and thyme. Just pull all the little leaves off the thyme and discard the stalk. Stir that all up and stick it in the fridge until chilled. Boom. Done.

easy homemade summer bruscetta with thyme

My favorite way to eat bruschetta is just on top of some sliced Italian bread, maybe with a little hummus on there too. Add some good cheese, olives, and grapes on the side and you have perfection!

But wait, there’s more! There are about one million other ways you can use bruschetta! Throw it in a pasta or on top of an omelette, mix it into a salad or a sandwich, sprinkle it your ice-cream or run it through your hair!…. okay maybe not but you get the idea…

Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Oven dried tomatoes with bread and cheese

We had an over-abundance of tomatoes in our garden this year, and needed to choose a good way to use them up as soon as possible. I absolutely love sun-dried tomatoes, and so I decided that was the direction I wanted to go. The weather is pretty variable in New England this time of year, so actually drying them in the sun for several days was not really an option. I used my oven instead. I am absolutely thrilled with the way these turned out, they are delicious! So, I am really excited to share the recipe and drying process with you all today.

Oven_dried_tomatoes_1

Of course you will need some tomatoes. A bunch, actually, because when dried, the tomatoes shrink down by at least 50%. My tomatoes were from our backyard vegetable garden. We grew Roma and Bistro tomatoes this year, so that is what I used.
Oven_dried_tomatoes_2
Wash all of your tomatoes and pat dry. Slice off the stem end of each one, then slice in half. Some people think a serrated knife is needed to get a good slice through a tomato, but this just isn’t true. If you take good care of your kitchen blades and sharpen them regularly, a straight edged blade is even better. If you ask me, one good, sharp, chef’s knife is all you really need for cooking!
Oven dried tomatoes prep
Over a bowl, give each tomato a good squeeze with your hand to loosen up the seeds and juice inside. This part can get pretty messy (and fun!), so try not to wear a white shirt. Use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds and juice from inside. After you’ve scooped them out, you can slice the biggest tomatoes in half again if you would like, but remember that they will shrink significantly in the oven.
Oven_dried_tomatoes_4-2
Lay the tomato halves cut side up on a foil lined baking sheet, spaced out enough so that they are not touching each other. Then sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper. I also added a bit of garlic powder. Lay whole stalks of fresh thyme on top of the cut tomatoes. The taste of that fresh thyme will seep into the tomatoes during the drying process, and it really ramps up the flavor. Finally, drizzle everything with extra virgin olive oil. I actually keep some olive oil in a small spray bottle in my cabinet for giving foods an even coating, and I used that here.

Set your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and get ready to wait… These will take between six and eight hours to fully dry, depending how large and how juicy your tomatoes are. You don’t need to poke or turn them during this time, so you can just let them do their thing, slowly drying away in the oven while you go about your business. Just stay nearby so you don’t burn your house down or anything.
Oven Dried Tomatoes finished
When they are done, the tomatoes will have turned a deep dark red, decreased in size, and have a shriveled, leathery appearance. Turn off the oven and let them cool slowly inside.
Oven dried tomatoes storage
Once the dried tomatoes have cooled, pile them up in a jar and cover with extra virgin olive oil. Push them down in the jar with a spoon to release any air pockets. Top off with a little more oil to make sure they are fully covered. You can store the whole jar in the fridge like this, or go through the regular canning methods to seal and store in the pantry for even longer.
Oven Dried Tomatoes yum
These oven-dried tomatoes taste great and are also really versatile. Try them on a piece of french bread with some good cheese, or in a pasta dish or salad. If you sealed your jars, they could even make a lovely hostess gift! As for me, there are still more tomatoes ripening in our garden, so I plan to make another batch next weekend!