Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Italian Toasts with Roasted Grape Tomatoes

Lately, we seem to be really busy. And I haven't had time for fussy meals. Sometimes we need something a little bit lighter with a piece of grilled chicken, or a summer salad, or some fruit. This dish fits the bill. I can still remember my husband making me cheese toasts in college with processeed cheese and topping the toasts with slices of fresh tomatoes. But, after we got married, we started to use the real stuff--Cheddar (what does Maya Angelou say? When you know better, you do better?).

And we've always served roasted tomatoes as a vegetable side dish, but on night I decided to combine these two things and we really enjoyed this as a light dinner. The crispiness of the bread pairs well with the savory melted cheese and the light sweetness and pop of the tomatoes.

Roasting the tomatoes takes some time, but you can probably them ahead of time and reheat them in the microwave before making the toasts (which take a few minutes only). Otherwise, the dish is super easy. I love it if I have extra tomatoes the next day after I roast them--they are delicious tossed in a salad or in a pasta dish.

By the way, I've never made SLOW roasted tomatoes, but when the weather cools down, I definately want to try Smitten Kitchen's idea. See here.


Serves 4 as part of the main entree or 6-8 as an appetizer.
  • 1 package grape tomatoes or a mixture of yellow and red teardrop tomatoes, rinsed (no need to dry off)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste (1 tsp. coarse sea salt + ½ tsp. cracked black pepper)
  • 4-8 pieces of country multi-grain bread (the hearty stuff—like La Brea brand, not the soft sandwich type bread, although I'm sure that might work ok, just not as good for this recipe)
  • 4-8 pieces of provolone cheese (smoked is fine)
  • ~2 tsp. Italian seasoning OR 1 handful of freshly chopped basil leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

Place the tomatoes on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Add the garlic, salt and pepper. Using your (clean) hands, roll the tomatoes around until they are even covered by all the ingredients.

Roast for 20 minutes, and then stir. (I had read somewhere that if your tomatoes seem to dry, to add 2 to 3 tablespoons of hot water, but mine have always seemed fine).

Meanwhile (during the time you're waiting to stir the tomatoes), place the bread on another large baking sheet. Top each piece of bread with a slice of provolone and sprinkle the Italian seasoning over the toasts. (If using fresh basil—wait to use it until the toasts are assembled).

Return the tomatoes to the oven and cook for about 20 to 30 more minutes (but before they turn black).

In addition, add the toasts to the bottom rack simultaneously. Let the edges of the toast crisp up and the cheese melt before taking the toasts out (this should about 5 minutes or so—depending on your oven—but keep an eye so they do not burn). Take the bread out and set aside.

When the tomatoes are ready, they will have begun to shrivel.

You can assemble the toasts by placing one or two pieces per plate and adding a few roasted tomatoes on top—best if tomatoes are still warm. If you have fresh basil around, top the toasts with some slivered pieces and serve immediately.

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