There’s something about summertime (or almost summertime) that makes me crave tomatoes. I remember as a kid, taking the first summer bite of a giant, red Jersey Beefsteak, so ripe the juice would drip down my hand as I bit in. With just a little salt, the sweet-spicy fruit could become an entire meal, and a ritual to look forward to the following year.
When tomatoes are abundant, I like to make bruschetta. Slow-roasting some of the tomatoes brings out the sweetness of the fruit, and mellows the garlic and onions to form a rich, concentrated flavor. Fresh tomatoes and basil added later restore the bright colors and textures. Bake the bread until warmed through, but not crispy – elixir from the roasted tomatoes and onions will seep in for an extra burst of flavor.
Any kind of tomatoes can be used in this recipe. If you grow your own, it’s a great way to enjoy a plentiful harvest. A mixture of colored tomatoes can add visual and flavorful interest. I must confess that I like to use Campari tomatoes when making bruschetta this way. Hot house-grown, these little delights are sweet, with a consistency perfect for slow-roasting. And, perhaps best of all, I can enjoy summer all year long.
18 – 20 Campari tomatoes (about 4 cups chopped)
1 medium red onion
4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup virgin olive oil
½ cup basil
1 loaf Italian bread
Preheat oven to 200°. Chop half the tomatoes into small cubes (about ¼ inch) and place in bowl. Store the remaining tomatoes in the refrigerator. Chop the onion and add to the chopped tomatoes. Mince garlic and add to the tomato-onion mixture. Stir in olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out evenly on large baking tray. Slow roast for about two hours.
Let roasted tomato mixture cool slightly. Place in bowl or glass storage container; stir in olive oil and vinegar. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours.
About a half hour before serving, preheat oven to 200°. Chop remaining tomatoes and basil and add to slow-roasted mixture. Slice bread into ¼-inch thick slices and lay flat on baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes, until bread is warm and crisp but not browned. Spoon about one tablespoon of tomato mixture onto each warm bread slice. Serve immediately.
Makes about 24 ¼-inch thick bruschetta slices.