In the summer I am always looking for new ways to use the beautiful heirloom tomatoes that are overflowing at the Farmer’s Market. As perfect as they are with just a little salt and pepper on them, adding a few ingredients can change the whole concept of a dish.
Working off the classic Caprese combination, I put together some roasted tomatoes with Parmesan and basil. It was love at first bite! On hot summer evenings I like serving different kinds of crostini at our dinner parties. Easy to make without heating up the kitchen too much, it is like having a picnic. Try offering two or three different kinds for fun. All the bread can be baked ahead of time and topped just before serving. My Fava Bean Spread is one option, or maybe a fresh pea puree. You could season some drained ricotta with salt, sautéed shallots, and fresh thyme. Or even simpler would be a schmear of softened cream cheese topped with a dab of fig balsamic jam … YUM!
Try mixing up the types of heirloom tomatoes you use for more color. Adding yellow, orange, green, and purple tomatoes will liven up the topping! Plum or Roma tomatoes have the fewest seeds in them and are particularly good for this recipe.
These crostini can also be served as an amuse bouche before a sit down dinner party. Your guests will feel like they are at a high-end restaurant when you present these delicious bites on beautiful little plates!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Roasting tomatoes really brings out their sweetness and gives them a hint of smoke. In the winter when tomatoes are not at their best, this is a great way to boost their flavor. If you want you can add olive oil to the tomatoes and onions and roast until tomatoes are soft and the onions are caramelized. Pack this into a container and store in the refrigerator. Serve over pasta for an amazing meal. People will be begging you for the recipe!
Kitchen Skill: Slicing on the bias (diagonal)
Why: To increase the surface area and make a more attractive presentation
How: Holding a sharp serrated knife at about a 45-degree angle, cut the baguette into 1/2-inch slices. Cutting on the bias gives you more room to comfortably top them with the tomato mixture and makes them easier to eat.
- 1 freshly baked baguette
- Olive oil
- Coarse salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, halved lengthwise, sprouted center removed, and finely minced
- 10 plum/Roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise in thirds, or chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, diced, optional
- 4 oz Parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for sprinkling on top
- 3 tbsp chiffonade of fresh basil leaves
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice bread on an angle into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices, brush lightly with olive oil, sprinkle one side with salt, and bake until lightly toasted, turning over halfway through. This should only take about 5 minutes per side, but it will depend on your oven.
- Heat oil in large ovenproof skillet. Add onions and sauté until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and tomatoes and place in preheated oven. Roast for about 20 minutes or until softened. Remove from oven, and add salt & pepper to taste. Reduce oven to 350°F.
- Return skillet to stove burner and continue to cook over low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated. NOTE: Keep a hot pad on the handle of the skillet so you don’t burn yourself! Pour into a bowl and cool slightly. Add olives (if using), 4 oz Parmesan cheese and basil strips to cooled tomatoes. Mix well to blend. Set aside.
- Using a slotted spoon, top each slice of bread with about 2 tsp of tomato mixture. Sprinkle with a little more Parmesan if desired. Bake at 350°F until bubbly and hot. Serve immediately.
- Yield: 8 appetizer servings