Final Taste of Summer: Quick Spinach, Mozzarella and Heirloom Tomato Baked Bruschetta

The calendar may say it's fall, but here in Atlanta we're still feeling the heat of summer. Summer brings to mind all sorts of tastes and smells and flavors. But for me, nothing compares to a well executed bite of bruschetta.  I know I've waxed poetic about this Italian delight in the past, but truly I can't get enough.  For me, it's everything that's good about summer.

It's entirely about the ingredients. A hunk of bread, slices of mozzarella, freshly picked basil and the best tomatoes you can find.  Late summer tomatoes are the stuff dreams are made of.  I'd honestly pop cherry tomatoes into my mouth like grapes. 

I threw together this combination as a quick lunch one day, and was surprised by how many of my standard bruschetta ingredients were transformed with a slight change to my usual preparation.

For starters, instead of using basil, I went with heaping piles of chopped baby spinach.  This was my one sneaky way of making bread and cheese slightly healthy. I sliced the remainder of a baguette, drizzled it with oil and topped it with about two cups of spinach. 

Next I placed slices of mozzarella on top. With traditional bruschetta I far prefer fresh mozzarella, but if you're trying this oven trick, fresh can be too watery and cause the bread to get soggy.

Final step is dicing up some fresh tomatoes. I was spoiled with a couple leftover bits of heirlooms I had from a previous meal, but any variety will do! I tossed the tomatoes with a glug of good balsamic, and seasoned them with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic powder.  I threw the tomatoes on top and baked them in my toaster oven for 10 minutes on 400F.  If you'd like the cheese to get a bit more brown and delicious, turn things to the broiler setting and watch it for just a couple minutes until things get golden and crisp. 

I'm more than ready for fall weather to begin, but it doesn't mean I can't still enjoy the spoils of summer for just a bit longer!