Manischewitz® Roasted Tomato & Garlic Bruschetta

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The Italians excel at making simple ingredients delicious, something I’ve admired over and over again on my Jewish-Italian culinary exploration. Take bruschetta. This appetizer that you find in both Italian and Jewish-Italian recipe collections is simply toasted or grilled bread, garlic, and good extra-virgin olive oil—ridiculously basic and ridiculously irresistible.

Although the traditional topping is chopped fresh tomatoes and herbs, I wanted to take that irresistible bruschetta with me around the calendar. For fall and winter, though, it seemed to need a more robust flavor (and less reliance on being able to get fresh and delicious tomatoes).

Roasting those ubiquitous grape tomatoes and some garlic cloves seemed the ideal way to transition this appetizer to the new season. And indeed, the flavors were full-bodied—but the acidity of the tomatoes still needed a little tempering. I was thinking about sugar and vinegar, but then in the back of my head I must have heard my Italian grandmother (yes, the Italian one) exclaiming “Manischewitz!”—which she inexplicably said when something delighted her, usually in the kitchen.

Well, why not Manischewitz? The super-sweet, slightly syrupy wine could tip the flavor scales in just the right direction. And after trying it, I can echo Grandma Mary’s “Manischewitz!” The wine added before roasting and a little more added afterward rounds out the flavor so you can really enjoy each tomato-y, garlicky bite of bruschetta. Notice I didn’t say sweet-wine flavored bite. The wine here is a flavor enhancer but should not be the flavor of the tomato mixture. If it tastes like Manischewitz, use less next time.

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Best of all, this bruschetta is still easy to make. After halving the tomatoes and tossing them (along with some garlic cloves) with oil and wine, roast them about 35 minutes. For brushing the toast, I like to take that now sweet roasted garlic and create a richly flavored garlic-oil spread. I press the garlic through my garlic press but you could also mash it into the oil and thoroughly combine. Brush the mixture on your toast, being sure each piece gets some little chunks of garlic.

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Gently stir about ½ teaspoon or so more of Manischewitz into the tomatoes and taste to make sure the flavor is smooth but not too sweet. Then spoon the tomatoes and any extra juices on the pieces of bread. Top with basil or oregano.

It’s been one of many pleasures when a flavor or ingredient from one tradition can enhance a recipe from the other (like adding Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to my matzah brei). And this bruschetta is another combination of ingredients and techniques that results in a whole better than the sum of its parts.



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