2/3 cup olive oil
21/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. black pepper
21/4-21/2 cups chopped tomatoes (Plum or Roma are best)
2 Tbs. sugar
3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1, 8 oz. package (2 cups) of mozzarella or Italian blend shredded cheese
1 loaf of French, baguette crusty bread
Combine olive oil, basil, oregano, garlic, and black pepper in a small jar and cover. Shake vigorously to bring out the flavor of each spice. This flavored oil should be made as far in advance as possible (overnight is good) so that the most possible flavor can be drawn into the oil. Continue to shake the jar every so often so that the flavors are always blending.
Marinate the chopped tomatoes in the sugar, vinegar, and salt. The best tomatoes to use are the meatier varieties like Roma and Plum, but if these are not available use a standard garden tomato. Remove as many seeds as you can by slicing each tomato in half and then squeeze each half in your hand to force the majority of the seeds out. Try to begin marinating this combination at least 1-2 hours in advance (overnight is good here also) so that the tomatoes have some time take on the sweet flavors in the marinade. Here also, stir every once in a while to ensure that all of the tomatoes are benefiting from the flavors surrounding them.
Cut your bread into 3/4" slices and lay them out on a tinfoil covered cookie sheet. Brush both sides of each slice with your flavored oil, being careful to cover the surface of each piece without saturating it. Place in a 350° oven for 5-7 minutes until tops are slightly toasted. Remove from oven.
Strain the marinade from your tomatoes and spoon a small pile of them onto each slice of toasted bread. Top all with grated cheese. Drizzle any remaining flavored oil over the tops of the Bruschetta.
Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and begins to bubble. Serve hot.
This recipe is one of my early inventions and each time I make it, the plate is clean in minutes! It took first place for the Appetizers category in one of my first ever contest entries - The Patriot Ledger recipe contest!