When I was growing up, hot dogs were a family favourite. My Mom used to make a really lovely relish for them with finely chopped tomatoes, dehydrated onion, salt and pepper. Aside from a bit of mustard, it was all I would put on my hot dogs, and I loved it so much that I would eat the leftovers with a spoon.
Fast forward to today, and I really don’t eat that many hot dogs anymore. First of all, my family and I are trying to eat less meat (although to be fair this relish would work beautifully on vegetarian hot dogs), and also I am much more aware of the fact that traditional meat hot dogs are really not at all good for us.
But I still love my Mom’s relish. I also love Italian bruschetta, toasted Italian bread served with tomatoes. Traditionally bruschetta is just olive oil, tomatoes and garlic, but I really wanted to play with the flavours – and so this recipe was born. It’s so easy, and you probably already have the ingredients on hand. If the bread you have is a little stale, that is no problem, you are going to toast it anyway. You can use any crusty bread cut in thick slices but ciabatta or French bread baguettes work best.
This is a great make ahead recipe in that the tomato mixture benefits from a few hours sitting. Then all you have to do at the last minute is slice the bread, brush it with olive oil on both sides, and toast it in the oven or under the broiler for a couple minutes on each side. Topping it with the tomato mixture doesn’t take long at all.
I have changed my Mom’s recipe a bit, to use the fresh scallions that are in season at the moment, and I’ve added one of my favourite go-to ingredients, balsamic vinegar. It adds an amazing depth of flavour. Be sure to use a good balsamic, it really does make a difference.
To make about a dozen bruschetta, you need:
4 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 bunch of scallions (spring onions), tough ends removed, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped OR 1 teaspoon dried
1 clove garlic, peeled and very finely chopped or grated (optional)
1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Mix the tomatoes, scallions, basil and garlic together. Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and allow to sit for at least ten minutes or up to an hour or two (or longer in the fridge).
Serve on toasted crusty bread, as above. If you have any fresh basil, it looks pretty if you garnish the bruschetta with some whole leaves.
If you don’t want to eat the leftover tomato mixture with a spoon like I do, it is wonderful as a pizza topping.