Here’s a quick and easy way to make some ordinary ingredients into a really delicious starter, or meal in its own right.
This is based on a simple bruschetta I was served in a restaurant. It was simple, fresh, vibrant and tasty… The key to my version is preparing the tomatoes using more salt that you think can possibly be healthy (most of it drips away) and make a simple olive paste for the bread. Using heritage tomatoes isn’t essential, but they tend to taste better and contain less water. Visually they make things much more interesting.
To serve four you need:
Bread (four slices)
Tomatoes (the more varied the better)
Garlic (four or five cloves)
Olive oil (ideally extra virgin)
Dried mixed herbs
Wine vinegar (red or white)
Roughly cut up the tomatoes and place them in a colander over a bowl to catch the juice. Sprinkle salt over the tomatoes. You need a lot of salt. For six good sized tomatoes I end up using about three or four teaspoons of salt but don’t worry, most of this drips away with the juice. Gently mix the salt in with the tomatoes.
The salt draws out the liquid and you’ll find juice starts running into the bowl. Move the tomatoes around every so often as you want to get as much liquid out as possible. After about 15 mins or so, discard the juice (it’s far too salty to be useful) and put the tomatoes in a bowl.
Mix up a dressing with three parts oil to one part vinegar (you don’t need much dressing so don’t overdo it). I usually throw in some dried mixed herbs, a crushed clove of garlic and half a chilli. Pour this over the tomatoes and mix it through.
Wizz up 100g olives and a few cloves of garlic to a fine paste, adding olive oil to loosen. Mix in two teaspoons of tomato puree (or more to taste). You can add a bit of chilli, though perhaps not needed alongside the dressing. I sometimes add a few drops of dark soy sauce. This intensifies the flavour and adds a bit of colour.
Toast your bread and spread a thin layer of the olive paste. Then pile high with tomatoes and serve.