With the changing of the seasons that means its time to start thinking about our summer gardens. Tomatoes are my favorite fruit to grow and back when I was deep into gardening, I was also experimenting on how to get a bigger, better tomato. Growing different varieties is just about the coolest thing to do. One year, I only planted tomatoes that sounded like a fairy tale character, like a Snow White that was a “White Cherry”, and a Prince Charming that was a striped “Purple Cherry”. The problem with my borderline tomato growing obsession is quite literally, the fruits of my labor and trying to figure out what to do with the masses of tomatoes.
Have you seen the movie, Julie and Julia? It’s about the food blogger who cooked her way through, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking from Julia Childs”. If not, do! If so, do you remember the scene where Julie is perfectly frying bread in olive oil so she can cover it with the most delicious looking pile of bruschetta? I dream about that scene every time tomato season starts. Where I differ from the Queen is I make my bruschetta with cherry tomatoes, they’re just so much sweeter than a typical Beef Steak or Roma. Now, you can put this bruschetta on top of perfectly fried bread, but why not make it so much EXTRA by putting it on one of our famous Caprese sandwiches. I say famous because when we were slinging sandwiches off of the food truck, the Caprese was always the first to sell out. The sweet tomato and balsamic mayo really help cut through the richness that is fried cheese.
- 1 big Tomato or a cup of small Tomatoes
- 4 big leaves of Basil, finely chopped
- 1 clove of Garlic, smashed and minced
- 1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon good Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Fired Cheese:
- 4 1in thick Slices of Mozzarella
- 1 cup Flour
- 2 Eggs
- 1 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
- Oil for Frying
- Balsamic Aioli:
- 1 cup Mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
- 4 Ciabatta Buns
To Start: Toast the buns with butter and set aside. Mix the mayonnaise and vinegar and let it sit in the fridge until it's time to build the sandwiches. In a cast iron skillet heat about an inch deep of good frying oil (I use peanut or Crisco) heat until it's at 375°.
- Chop tomato, basil, and garlic.
- Mix together everything together, season to taste, and let sit for minimum 20 minutes. Or as long as it takes to bread and fry the cheese.
- Set up the three-step dredge, flour on one plate, beaten eggs on another, and bread crumbs on the last. Season the flour and eggs with salt and pepper.
- Pat the mozzarella dry then dip into the flour, eggs, then bread crumbs; making sure that the cheese is completely covered with bread crumbs if you want a thicker crust dip it back to the eggs and bread crumbs. You can do this part ahead of time and set them in the fridge to fry off later. But don't let them sit longer than a few hours or they will become soggy.
- Carefully lay the breaded cheese in the oil and cook for approx. 30-45 seconds on each side removing from the oil once both sides are golden brown, and the cheese is just starting to melt. Pay close attention that it doesn't get too cooked and the cheese starts to leak out of the crust. Lay them on a paper towel and let cool for a minute before placing on the sandwich.
Building the Sandwich
- Spread the balsamic mayonnaise on both sides of the bun.
- Lay the cheese on the bottom bun
- Top the cheese with Bruschetta, then the top bun.
Serve with potato chips