When I’m hosting a dinner party, I tend to channel the Italian-American side of my family, which means lots of lasagna and other pasta-based classics. But waaaaaay before the main course is served, I always make sure that guests have plenty of wine and/or booze, and lots of delicious snacks. Almost always, bruschetta is served.

Bruschetta is pretty fun to make, and besides requiring minimal effort, it can be prepped ahead — that way the juices from the tomato mixture seep into the grilled bread, providing a hard-soft contrast that I love.

Though it can be tricked out with melted mozzarella and onions and ham, I prefer to keep it simple, just fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and the most awesome fresh Italian bread I can get my hands on.