Monday, July 30, 2012


Some of my recipes are just that: recipes.  Most of my recipes have a story, simply because food is tied to an event.  Or a person.  Or a place.  And very few of my recipes involve drama.  Drama just ain't me, y'all.

But this recipe is an exception to the drama rule.  Get ready.  And go chop some tomatoes because you're going to want to make this bruschetta faster than you can say white water rafting.

Once upon a time, I went white water rafting.  For seven days.  I slept in a tent.  I didn't shower.  (It was a for-real camping trip.)  Middle Fork of the Salmon River (that's in Idaho, y'all).

The first night, our guides put out a big bowl of this bruschetta for us to nosh on while they prepped our gourmet meal.  (You would not believe what river guides can prepare for dinner from a raft.  Amazing.)

The vinaigrette: sun-dried tomato pesto, garlic, white wine vinegar and olive oil.
It was one of the best things I had eaten to date.  Ever.

The bruschetta is the sole reason I bought this cookbook:

The first six days of our no-showers, sleep-in-a-tent, ride down a very large, cold, rushing river in a not-so-large raft were fun.  The river was an adventure.  

And then I almost died on the seventh day of the trip.

I have never forgotten this bruschetta and I make it every summer to pay homage to the trip where my raft flipped over in the middle of a class-five rapid and I swam to the next raft where I was yanked in by my life jacket only for that raft to flip in another class-five rapid in 45-degree water before swimming towards and clinging to a sheer rock wall by my fingertips while I prayed for my life and hoped the last company raft down the river might look over and spot my desperate soul.

That really happened.

And obviously I was rescued by another boat or I wouldn't be writing this.  And obviously I was reunited with my husband, who I lost in the middle of a rapid, because we're married and have made three babies since that trip down the Salmon River.

I'm not sure I could have fared so well on the river had my brother not given me a crash-course in swimming ridiculous rapids while in an itsy bitsy little yellow raft called a "duckie" (which is actually just an inflatable kayak) while he (my brother, in his real kayak, paddling next to me) kayaked the Arkansas River (that's in Colorado, y'all).

Thanks to my brother, my life was never dull.  Or safe.

But that was years ago.  Pre-children.  I hardly remember anything from that part of my life.  Strange, since I've only had children for four years.

I'm glad that I can make this bruschetta at home.  And that I don't have to swim any rapids to get it.

Oh, and somewhere in the Salmon River is my right river sandal.  I'd like it back now.

Adapted from Rapid Gourmet Cookbook

4-5 heirloom tomatoes, seeded and diced (I like to use garden-fresh tomatoes; nothing compares to their flavor)
12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

2 T olive oil
1 T sundried tomato pesto
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 T white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Pita chips or baguette, for serving

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a bowl.  Add the tomatoes, basil and feta.  Toss to coat.  Serve immediately with pita chips or sliced baguette.

If using the baguette, slice it thinly on an angle, brush with either olive oil or butter and sprinkle with garlic salt.  Put it under the broiler for just a couple minutes until golden brown.

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