I just made bruschetta and want to share the recipe. Before we go there, however, we need a lesson on how to pronounce, “bruschetta.” I used to say “BROO-shett-uh.”  That is incorrect. After ordering a delish rendition of bruschetta at Dolce Vita in Boston’s North End, I have learned to say it correctly. (If you get the chance to go there, GO! Franco rocks, and sings to the crowd. Much fun to be had by all!) 

Ready? Here we go…”Br(roll that ‘r’)oo-SKETT-tuh.” Now, kiss all your fingertips (and thumbtip, is that considered a finger in an example such as this? I think it is, but, whatever, all five of them) at the same time, then pull your hand away and flare your fingers out into a jazz hand. This is a terrible, stereotypical gesture I have learned from movies and television and I use it here without shame.

So, here is the DaisyPatch version of the Dolce Vita bruschetta.

1 loaf Italian bread (I bought a fresh loaf that was soft. You can buy the crusty kind (is that French? Well THAT won’t work. This is an Italian recipe) but I avoid the crusty kind because it shreds the roof of my mouth. Like Captain Crunch. Ouch. That stuff was painful. How did that get on the market in the first place, I ask you? That cereal inflicted injury. Did I digress?) Slice and then toast in the broiler until just lightly browned (too brown and we’ll get that shredded roof of the mouth thing again.)

1 clove garlic, minced

3-4 tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup fresh basil – chopped

1 tbsp fresh thyme – removed from the stem

1 shallot (or a teensy red onion), chopped

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

coarse salt

fresh ground pepper

*Note- I don’t measure. I completely eyeballed it, but I think that looks about right.

Mix the garlic, tomatoes, shallot, basil, thyme in a bowl. Add olive oil. Let sit.

Reduce the balsamic vinegar in a pan over the stove until it starts to look thick. Cool. It will get a bit thicker as it cools. You want it thick like honey.

When you are ready to serve, put the veggie mixings on the toasted bread, salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle with a little balsamic. Serve it up.

And say it with me. Bruschetta. (Don’t forget the hand gesture – kiss, pull, jazz). Molto bene.

(Author note: I am exceptionally proud of these. All veggies and herbs were ours. And they were delicioso.)

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Actually, I can’t really pinpoint how it all started. Perhaps our dream of growing our own food was sparked when we found our first apartment in Kittery. I hadn’t even moved in yet, (I was still in Vermont, more on that later), but I started window boxes of Basil on the tiniest, yet sunniest, porch ever.

Keith, not having much gardening experience besides his mother having a vegetable garden and his bachelor plant, a dracaena tree he bought at a department store, watered them during the week. When I came over on weekends, I pinched and preened our pre-pesto dreams until I moved in full time. I was unemployed and could give them my love while I looked for a job near my new home.

There were 6 basil plants. Keith’s friends, most new to me and I to them, complimented and praised our little apartment garden. He gave me the credit, although he tended to them too. He was so proud. They were HUGE! They loved the full sun on that back porch.  If I stood on my tippy-toes, I could see the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. When big boats went through the Memorial Bridge, they filled the entire view from that little porch. It was a tiny apartment with no room for personal space, but it was right on the water and we loved that about it.

The first harvest yielded 6 cups of basil and I made some pesto. I had never made it before and made a few rookie mistakes. I made it in the blender. Not a mistake, really, but my Cuisinart, an unaffordable luxury at the time, yields better results when I make it now. The other mistake was not toasting the pine nuts. I didn’t know. The recipe (found on the internet), didn’t tell me to. I almost never stray from recipes, and had never used pine nuts before (I remember thinking those babies were expensive!)

The pesto was delish. I’m not sure if it was the seacoast air and bright sunny days or just the pride we took that we grew the Basil ourselves that made it taste so good, but we loved it.

We’ve lived in our house, only 15 minutes away from that old apartment, for close to 9 years. We grew 3 varieties of Basil this past Summer, but I still look back to those first fragrant beauties on that little porch as the beginning of it all – of us, our love for good food and the plans we now are making to grow our own.