Calling friends over at the last minute on a summer evening? So fun. Especially now that we have a house with a spacious, elevated deck. Underneath it is a stretch of grass rolling toward a windbreak of ash trees and a narrow stream. Our guests are sometimes surprised by the buzz of an obnoxiously loud ‘mosquito’ overhead. We love seeing their expressions when they realize it’s actually our quirky neighbor’s camera-equipped drone, ‘spying’ on us!

I set up a buffet inside and guests drifted in and out as they pleased.

I only serve my special, trademark bruschetta in August and September, because that’s the only time of year when the local tomatoes are perfect enough for this dish. People go crazy for it, even though they tell me they’re afraid to breathe on anyone for days after consuming all that garlic!

If you want to go all out, add salmon or turkey sliders, corn on the cob with herb butter, a green salad, and fresh peaches sliced with dilled Havarti, or watermelon.

As for wine suggestions, I find Merlot and Red Zinfandel easiest to drink. (Cabernets can have more pronounced tannins, which might be too heavy for warm nights.) Or ask for a young Sangiovese.

Yum! I can’t wait until summer!

BRUSCHETTA
3 ripe tomatoes
3-4 T. feta cheese
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 avocado, diced
¼ c. olive oil
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 baguette French bread, sliced at the market
Olive oil-flavored cooking spray

Cover a large cookie sheet with foil. Spread out the bread slices evenly and spray with cooking spray. Toast until just golden under the broiler, watching carefully so they don’t burn. Turn each one over and spray and toast the other side. Toss into a large bowl.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl with a spoon so guests can assemble their own bruschetta.

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