The Best Toast You'll Ever Eat

First things first: in recent days and weeks, we have all, no doubt, come across many things to read – articles, op-eds, corporate stances, political statements, Twitter threads – that speak in really important, new, and/or interesting ways about the moment we're in. I'm compiling a few of mine over at Heated. If you're interested, you can check them out here.

It's officially summer! To celebrate (not a lot to celebrate these days), I want to pay some respect to a dish so humble that most people don't even know how perfect it is: Bruschetta.

Bruschetta reminds me enough of summer (it's best on the grill) that this first newsletter of the season seemed like the right place to give it its due. Here's the thing. If you ask most cooks what bruschetta is, they'll tell you it's toasted bread with some kind of chopped tomato and basil mixture on top. That's not wrong, but there's also so much more (and less!) to it than that. In my mind, the truest and best bruschetta has almost nothing on it. It's good, thick bread, grilled or broiled, rubbed with a fresh garlic clove, drizzled with an unconscionable amount of olive oil, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. I truly believe that this is the best toast you'll ever eat.

So, if you've never had bruschetta at its purest, do me a favor and give it a try; I can't imagine it won't become a permanent fixture of your cooking life from then on. (My tried and true recipe is below). After that, feel free to let the toppings rain down. The chopped tomatoes and basil that so many of us associate with this dish are certainly a good option, but, of course, there are plenty more; everything from a simple slice of cheese or grated lemon zest, to caramelized onions or shrimp scampi. Bruschetta is a blank slate, and particularly good at reviving leftovers, so let your imagination run wild.

A few tips: You can use almost any good bread for bruschetta. Pick a loaf that’s crusty on the outside and tender, not too chewy on the inside. You want the center to be moist without any gaping holes. It can be made of white flour, whole grain, or a mix. Don’t buy pre-sliced bread; it’ll be too thin, and you’ll end up with breakfast toast — which isn’t bad; it’s just not bruschetta.

The biggest sticking point with bruschetta is the garlic. Rubbing a raw clove on the bread produces a pretty pungent garlic kick, so if you just want a hint of it, use a single clove of garlic to run all eight slices of bread. If you're an absolute garlic fiend, use four. Whatever you do, don't skimp on the olive oil; this is not the time or the place. You want it to really soak into the bread, so a teaspoon or two drizzled on every slice is not too much.

With that, let's toast (literally) to the summer: may it be infinitely better than the spring.

—Mark


BRUSCHETTA, 12 WAYS


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Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.