Urban Garden Bruchetta is a nutritious tribute to Indian Summer

As homage to the end of the season and the fruits of my urban garden, I revisited one of my favorite late-summer recipes: Urban Garden Bruchetta. It includes staples like truffle-infused olive oil and red wine vinegar, as well as leeks and the last yellow heirloom tomato from my potted garden. I also add basil picked from a plant I moved from the outdoors into my office as well as goat cheese cheddar bought locally at the farmer's market that's made at Oak Ridge Goat Dairy and Creamery. The recipe is packed with antioxidant, cancer-fighting foods. In fact, it includes many of the essential fatty acids and vitamins we need every day. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of the nutritional importance of each ingredient:

Olive oil has monounsaturated fatty acids considered a healthy dietary fat. These fatty acids may lower the risk of heart disease, normalize blood clotting as well as control insulin levels and blood sugar levels for type 2 diabetes’ patients.

Red wine vinegar may reduce glycemic levels in type II diabetic patients and increases calcium absorption.

Leeks are believed to fight cancer, especially colon and prostate cancer. They also contain  a substance shown to reduce ovarian cancer in women. The green parts of leeks are especially nutritious, containing B vitamins and antioxidants.

Basil is a natural anti-inflammatory and a good source of vitamin A, which helps prevent damage to cells by free radicals. It also has magnesium that helps the heart and blood vessels relax in order to improve blood flow. Other nutrients found in basil include iron, calcium, potassium and vitamin C.

Tomatoes have Lycopene, a vital antioxidant that helps fight against cancer. And finally, goat cheese has less fat and twice as much protein as other cheeses. 

Urban Garden Bruchetta
3 tsps. Olive oil infused with white truffle
3 tsps. Four Monks red wine vinegar (USA made in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.)
2 tsps. garden-grown leeks
2 tsps. garden-grown basil
1 Roma tomato, seeds and core removed
1 garden-grown yellow heirloom tomato
½ of a large Amana Orange heirloom tomato
½ cup of grated Oak Ridge Goat Dairy and Creamery cheddar cheese
Natural salt and peppercorn shakers
*This recipe is gluten-free and vegetarian. Use soy instead of the goat cheese for a vegan version.

Mix olive oil and red wine vinegar. Add sea salt (about 10 turns) and peppercorn (10 turns). Mix well.

Use kitchen scissors to cut the white part of the leeks into thin slices. Include part of the green as well, for both added color and nutrition. Add to bowl.

Pick basil off the stems, place into an organized pile and roll it into one piece. Use the kitchen scissors to cut into thin pieces. Add to bowl.

Core out Roma tomato to reduce acidity. Chop into small pieces. Repeat with the yellow and Amana Orange.  Add to bowl and mix well.
Add shredded cheddar goat cheese. (Parmesan or Romano are good substitutes.) Mix well.

Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes or longer to let all of the delicious, natural juices soak into each other. The salt makes the tomatoes sweat, so there should be a good amount of liquid at the bottom of the bowl.

The bruchetta can be served in several ways. Traditionally, it is served on a French bread. For parties, I cut slices of rustic bakery bread, drizzle olive oil on both sides and toast each piece on a cast-iron skillet. I then cut them into halves. 

You also can toast gluten-free bread--my favorite is Udi's multi-grain bread--or use the mixture on top of a spring salad or even scrambled eggs.

Serves 6.

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