Happy last week of classes, everyone! The year is almost over and summer is on the horizon.

Although summer is not my favorite time of year, it certainly has its perks: afternoons spent by the pool, going to the beach and evenings spent with friends or family grilling a nice dinner are just a few of the little pleasures of the season.

Summer is also peak season for a lot of good fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, and asparagus. Saturday mornings strolling through the Market Square Farmers Market is the best way to find the freshest produce in Knoxville, even if it means missing out on those Kroger Fuel Points. Bright, fun and fresh summer recipes are endless with the produce grown and sold during the summer.

For my last column of the year, I wanted to leave you all with one of my favorite summer recipes: classic bruschetta. Bruschetta is a simple party appetizer that is the perfect start to a backyard grill-out or dinner party. It can also easily made 100% vegan, but you can add a nice layer of ricotta cheese to the bread if that is not a concern for you.

This bruschetta requires only six ingredients that are all very inexpensive: a baguette, olive oil, six roma tomatoes, one shallot, fresh basil leaves and salt. You can find most – if not all – of these ingredients at the farmers’ market, so you know that you are getting the freshest ingredients. It is easy to find bread that is vegan – there are many options at the grocery store bakery or farmers market. Just check the ingredients!

Assembly is simple. Using a bread knife, slice the baguette into 1-inch slices, and lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle the tops of each slice with olive oil and broil them in the oven on high for 2-3 minutes. Watch them carefully, as they can burn quickly. Not speaking from experience, of course.

To make the topping, finely chop the shallot and place it into a bowl. Then, dice the roma tomatoes and place them into the bowl. Chop the basil using the chiffonade technique; stack the leaves on top of each other, roll them up tightly and chop them perpendicular to the roll. It creates a beautiful ribbon look. Throw these into the bowl as well and season with salt to your taste and stir. Drizzle about two teaspoons of olive oil on top of the tomato mixture and stir. Lastly, taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

Scoop a generous amount onto each baguette slice and serve immediately. If you are not trying to make this recipe vegan-friendly, before scooping the tomato mixture onto the bread, spread some ricotta cheese onto the baguette slice first.

This recipe will be something that all of your friends will love, I promise. Plus, it is so simple but looks so sophisticated that you can trick your friends into thinking you are a better chef than you might be.

It has been a pleasure getting to write for the Beacon this year, and I have learned a lot myself through this experience. I wish everyone best of luck on your finals, and go Vols!

Lauren Adams is a junior studying Spanish and Political Science with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She can be reached at ladams30@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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