Bruschetta with Checca

It's been way too long since I've posted. With the semester coming to a close, I've been busy writing a paper and putting together a presentation. I've also been spending several weekends in northern Georgia doing field work. I'm happy to say that I'm almost done collecting data, so all that's left is data analysis and writing my thesis.

One of the other little appetizers I made last weekend happens to be one of my favorite to order at Italian restaurants. It's also an appetizer that has gained a lot of popularity in the last several years. This bruschetta is the one I think most people idealize: toasty, grilled bread topped with checca, which is a salsa of tomato, olive oil, basil, and fresh mozzarella. Just describing it makes me crave it.

I just have to make one distinction before I write the recipe. Well, it's sort of a nit-picky of my pet peeves. Here it is: the bread is the bruschetta, not the topping. The reason bruschetta came about was because olive oil makers would test their first pressing of oil on grilled bread that they had toasted in the pressing house. The word bruschetta, in Italian, basically means toasted bread. Ok, rant over---here's the recipe:

Bruschetta with Checca
Printable Recipe

5-6 tomatoes (I like roma or the tomatoes that still have the vine attached)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and coarsely-ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
8 oz fresh mozzarella (cut into cubes if using a whole piece, or use mozzarella pearls)
6 cloves garlic
1 large baguette

1. Remove the seeds from the tomatoes and finely dice them. Add them to a medium bowl along with the olive oil, 4 minced cloves of garlic, salt and pepper. Toss the mixture and let is sit in the refrigerator at least and hour before serving, and allow it to come to room temperature before serving.
2. Right before serving, cut the bread into 1/2-3/4" slices. To prepare the bruschetta, you can use a broiler, an outdoor grill, a grill pan, or justbake them in the oven. To broil: heat your broiler and place the bread on a sheet pan. Place the pan on the top rack of your oven and toast for 2 minutes on each side or until they become browned on the edges. To grill: heat your grill or grill pan until warm and then toast the sides of each piece of bread for about 2 minutes or until grill marks show. To bake: arrange the bread on a sheet pan and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the bread for about 10 minutes, or until they become browned on the edges.
3. Once the bread is done, immediately rub each piece with one of the halved garlic cloves.
4. Toss the tomatoes with the basil and mozzarella. Top each piece of bread with the checca.