This ridiculously warm weather we are having in the middle of January is kind of amazing. Yes, I think it should feel more like winter and I agree that we desperately need it to rain but I am a sun worshiper at heart. I love the warmer climate and everything that encompasses it. I can never have enough barefoot sunset strolls while wearing tank tops and shorts, even when it is the middle of winter. I will never tire of it and that is why I will always call this place my home. The false summer that we are having not only makes me want to hit the beach immediately but it also makes me crave all kinds of summer time foods. Today, I was yearning for tomatoes. Tomatoes always speak “summer time” to me because that is when they are quite literally the most wonderful things to put in your mouth. During their peak season they are incredibly juicy and possess so much flavor. The best part is that we are so fortunate to be able to get amazing tomatoes all year long in our grocery stores. Therefore, I didn’t have to wait 3 months to fulfill my craving today.
I had bruschetta on the brain, but I wanted to kick it up a notch with a bit of a latin twist. I imagined the flavors of classic Mediterranean bruschetta with a Southern California perspective. I love the brininess of the capers next to the spiciness of the jalapeño and the red onion. The feta cheese and basil give it that Italian spin while the cilantro brings it right back around to Mexico. Salsa meets bruschetta. Bruschetta meets salsa. You get the idea…
- 1 fresh thin ciabatta loaf, cut in quarters, and then each quarter cut in half lengthwise, so that you have 8 thin slices.
- 1 lb grape tomatoes, sliced in quarters (remove as much of the juicy seeds as possible)
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and de-veined, finely chopped
- 1/4 small red onion, finely chopped
- 2 TBSP capers, drained of the juice
- 2 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro
- 5 basil leaves, stacked on top of each other, rolled up, and sliced “chiffonade” style
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Maldon Salt for sprinkling* (see note)
- In a large bowl, combine the diced tomato, jalapeño, red onion, capers, and cilantro. Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and pepper and mix to combine. Set aside.
- Toast the ciabatta slices. I use a very hot grill hot pan to toast the bread because I like the look of the grill marks. Feel free to toast your bread in the oven or toaster oven if that is your preference. Once toasted and still warm, rub the garlic cloves on all 8 slices. You should see the garlic melt into the toast.
- Top each piece of toast with some of the tomato mixture, some crumbled feta, the basil chiffonade, and a sprinkling of the Maldon salt. Serve immediately and enjoy!
- If you do not have a fancy finishing salt, such as Maldon, substitute for 1/2 tsp of sea salt and add to the tomato mixture at the same time as the pepper. I highly recommend that you purchase a flaky finishing salt at some point because the flavor is unparalleled. The salt can be a bit expensive but will last you a very long time.
- This makes 8 servings as an appetizer. I like to serve this as a main lunch course for two by simply cutting the recipe in half.