For the love of Hydra: Greek Bruschetta

I fell hard for bruschetta when I went on a fast and furious trip to the Amalfi Coast and Capri seven or so years ago. The fresh, plump tomatoes, the fragrant basil and the olive oil. Oh, the olive oil.

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But in November, I went to Hydra (pronounced he-dra, not hy-dra), the small Greek Island off Athens where no cars (except the mini garbage truck), motorcycles, scooters and bikes are allowed. Where Leonard Cohen once lived. Where the elite park their yachts in high season.

But in November, little is open, the island is at its sleepiest, and locals get to know you quick—wondering why you are visiting at this off-season time. Here, I fell in love with the welcoming people, the chanting monks, the soothing water, the plentiful cats, the fresh seafood, and the ever-present oregano.

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At one of my favorite restaurants (not many were open), I had a surprising bruschetta type dip. What made it different? Subbing oregano (of course) for basil, adding green peppers, and all were finally chopped, almost like a tapenade. Pair it with a cold Greek beer, red wine and grilled calamari and we have a little piece of island heaven. (My mouth is watering thinking about this bit of love.)

 

 

So obsessed I was, I made it for an appetizer at Thanksgiving and for a neighbors Candy Cane Lane party. Both times, it was devoured. Now, I’m sharing it with you. (How holiday does this platter look!)

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To maximize the flavor, get those tomatoes in the olive oil with the oregano and garlic. I chop all organic and ripe tomatoes into small pieces first. If you have access, get a mix of grape tomatoes for the color and tomatoes on the vine, roma or heirloom. Just make the pieces small, no bigger than your pinkie nail (assuming your pinkie nails aren’t dragon nails).

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Place them in a bowl and sprinkle with a little sea salt and enough quality olive oil to coat. Then mince that garlic and chop the oregano and drop it in, stirring in that yummy flavor. While it’s marinating, chop your green pepper and red onion as small as you can, and if you want to add a bit of basil, now is the time.

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After adding these final ingredients, drizzle more olive oil over the mixture. You should have enough olive oil and tomato to create a nice juice. Give it a taste and add more salt (I’m heavy on the salt!) And pop it in the refrigerator. It’s ready to go now, but I like it best after it has settled for a couple hours or even overnight.20191222_165851.jpg

When you are ready to serve, slice the baguette in 1/3 inch rounds. My trick to evenly broil with flavor is to pour a small layer of olive oil in a Tupperware dish, sprinkle in some garlic powder and dried oregano. I drop the rounds in the olive oil (they don’t have to be evenly coated with oil, but mostly), then turn olive oil side up on a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil. Pop under the broiler long enough to brown.

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This, unlike traditional bruschetta, should be spooned on the bread by the eater—like a dip. If you do in advance, the bread will get soggy. (Note: an alternate to French baguette is fresh pita—how I had it in Hydra—which was more like Naan bread available in America then our pita.)

This colorful dish is perfect for the Christmas table, or a summer barbecue.


Greek Bruschetta

Ingredients

  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano, minced (feel free to add to more sprigs)
  • 4 leaves fresh basil, chopped (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic -minced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (to taste)
  • ¼ green pepper finally chopped
  • 1 small package grape tomatoes (prefer red, yellow, and purple), chopped
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 large red onion, diced
  • 1 French baguette, sliced in 1/3 rounds*
  • Dried crushed coregano
  • Garlic powder

Instructions

  1. In a serving bowl or medium bowl, combine your tomatoes, garlic and oregano with olive oil to coat. Then sprinkle with salt, and add red onion and green pepper. Stir to combine. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve—an hour or 24 hours.
  2. Cut the baguette into 1/3 inch slices. When you are ready to serve, dip each bread round in olive oil spiced with garlic powder and crushed oregano. Arrange into one layer on a baking sheet with olive oil side up. Place under a broiler until the top of the bread is lightly toasted.
  3. Serve with the Greek Bruschetta in a bowl and the rounds placed on a surrounding platter.

Note: an alternate to French baguette is fresh pita—how I had it in Hydra—which was more like Naan bread available in America then our pita.


Confession, I’m not much of a measuring type cook, and I’m not great at writing recipes down… so each time it’s a little different. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

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