Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Roasted Baby Tomato Bruschetta

It's depressingly still winter so if I can turn on my oven, I will. It warms up the kitchen whilst I cook. So, when I planned on making some tomato bruschetta to accompany dinner one evening, I thought, why not roast the tomatoes? That meant turning on the oven and making it my heater (thank you v. much, oven for being a multi-tasker) and having a warm appetizer, the prospect of which seemed so lovely on that snowy evening.

I loved the way this turned out for several reasons. One, I didn't have to sit and chop a bunch of tomatoes and then deal with the aftermath of tomato water and seeds all over my cutting board. Two, the sweetness of the tomatoes really concentrated in the oven and made the bruschetta taste incredible. And three, no raw garlic was involved which meant that everyone went home without the type of breath that will kill dragons. It's so dignified and elegant and delicious; a real winner, if I'm allowed to say so.
Ingredients [serves 2 as a full meal or 4 as an appetizer]:
roasted tomatoes
2 pints baby tomatoes
1 shallot, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
5 to 6 basil leaves, torn

bruschetta
baguette
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 fresh mozzarella ball

I love these baby heirloom tomatoes. I love the mix of color, the different shapes and sizes, and the flavor. I'm not a fan of tomatoes in their freshest, raw form. I think they're watery and they often lack flavor. But these little babies are super sweet and delicious; they're so good that I wouldn't pick them out of my salad.
Spread the tomatoes all over a parchment-lined sheet pan. The parchment is definitely optional but it makes for quick clean up. Then, sprinkle on the garlic and shallot.
Drizzle the veggies with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season liberally with salt and pepper.
Pop the pan into a low broiler until you hear the tomatoes popping. Check on them and once they have a nice, light char, take them out of the oven to cool for 10 minutes.
Dump the contents of the sheet pan into a bowl and tear in pieces of basil and give it a stir. Some of the tomatoes will burst and fall apart and that's a good thing.
Slice a big loaf of bread in half. I considered going for cute little crostini but I decided against it. I wanted the final product to look a little more rustic and not so careful. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and toast until golden brown. If you feel so inclined, you can rub the toast with a piece of raw garlic but I think it's unnecessary. The roasted tomatoes are so subtle and sweet that raw garlic can be overpowering.
Cut the bread into pieces and arrange on a platter.
Spoon a generous amount of roasted tomato bruschetta onto each piece of bread.
Rip up pieces of fresh mozzarella and sprinkle all over the bruschetta.
Serve while it's still warm and enjoy. The contrast of the soft tomatoes on the crunchy bread is so lovely. The fragrant basil, the punchy and sweet balsamic vinegar, the creamy mozzarella, the bright tomatoes, the caramelized shallots, it all comes together so harmoniously. Plus, it's beautiful!
Here's the recipe page:

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