Summertime Happy Hour: Fresh Tomato and Feta Bruschetta

Every time we go to the beach, I’m in charge of happy hour. It’s become such a tradition that my family doesn’t do it if I’m not there. It’s nice to have a purpose, I guess.

I enjoy a happy hour on a normal day, but it’s especially significant on the porch, at the beach, during vacation. You can sip a cool, refreshing cocktail, nibble on something savory and soak up the atmosphere — whether it’s watching the ant-farm family across the street or just enjoying a nice breeze blowing in from the ocean.

Continuing in the vein of my beach recap, I thought I’d share some of my go-to happy hour concoctions. I often make a batch of pimento cheese, whether we eat it for happy hour or not. It’s just there, for a snack, for sandwiches at lunch or for appetizers in a pinch. My favorite, though, is fresh tomato and feta bruschetta. Hey, that rhymed! I’ve made classic tomato bruschetta before, and I love it. But I really have to give credit to my stepmother, or maybe to a friend of hers, for this recipe since I wouldn’t have thought to add feta cheese. It really makes all the difference.

I tend not to measure, but I’ve tried to include some detailed instructions on how I put it all together. The tomato topping on top of crunchy, toasted bread speaks of summer to me: juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh lemon and basil and that salty bite of feta cheese. It’s really hard not to eat the whole plate and just call that dinner.


Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

For the topping:

2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh basil (3-5 leaves)
1/2 garlic clove, finely diced or grated
1 oz (or a couple slices off a 6-oz block) feta cheese, crumbled
1-2 tablespoons good olive oil
dash of salt and pepper

Mix all of these ingredients in a bowl and set it aside to let the flavors co-mingle while you prepare the bread.

For the bread:

I buy a loaf of the “take and bake” french baguette that several groceries near me carry. Hopefully you can find that too, or just buy a regular baguette. Slice it thinly, between 1/2 to 1/4 inch — you don’t want it too thin or you won’t be able to pick it up once the topping’s loaded on it.

Turn your oven’s broiler to high and place the slices on a baking sheet. Drizzle a slight bit of olive oil over each one, and if you feel like it, rub the oil over the surface with your finger. If you don’t feel like it, no worries. Once the broiler has heated, put the sheet in the oven. Now, this is very important: do. not. walk. away. The bread can burn in an instant, even if you’re watching it like a hawk. When the tops look brown, remove the baking sheet and flip all the pieces over. Put them back in the oven and continue to watch until the other sides are brown. They may take about 1-2 minutes under the broiler.

Remove the bread from the oven and transfer the slices to a plate. With a fork (to drain the juice) or a spoon, top the bread with mounds of the tomato mixture, and serve.


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