Tomato and Balsamic BruschettaEstimated Cost:  $10.00

Prep Time:  10 minutes

Cooking Time:  10 minutes

Serves:  16

Bruschetta is an Italian antipasto (meal starter) which dates back to at least the 15th century.  It consists of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Many variations have since evolved, including this incredibly easy, affordable, and delicious version.

1 loaf French bread (16 oz.), cut into 16 slices
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 tub (8 oz.) spreadable cream cheese
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup red onions, slivered
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. ea. salt AND pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (about 8), torn

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Place bread slices in single layer on baking sheet. Bake 3 to 4 min. on each side or until toasted on both sides. Rub with garlic. Cool.

3. Spread toast with cream cheese; top with tomatoes and onions.

4. In a medium-bowl whisk vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper until well blended. Drizzle over toast slices; top with basil.

Mike’s comments:

If you’ve never “rubbed garlic” before, have no fear. I was a little taken back the first time a recipe instructed me to do this. Like many things, I made this much more difficult than it needed to be. Simply cut the cloves in half and carefully rub each slice with the sliced side of the clove. Don’t rub so hard that you tear the toasted bread, just hard enough to transfer the flavor. Some folks substitute a garlic butter spread in this stage.

You can also substitute 3/4 cup thin roasted red pepper strips for the halved tomatoes.