Recipe Reveal: Crostini with Roasted Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella
Technically, it’s not too hot to cook right now. The massive heat wave is over. So I have no excuse for not heating up the oven. Except I don’t feel like it.
I’ve been enjoying salads with chicken cooked on the grill, and cold soups like gazpacho. My husband is happy with stir fried meats and veggies, so we’re not missing the oven too much.
We’ve also been enjoying locally grown veggies like lettuce, swiss chard, japanese eggplant, and my favorite — tomatoes, which have just started to emerge. My preferred way to enjoy a tomato is to eat it freshly picked all by its lonesome, maybe with a spritz of salt. Nothing beats the deliciousness of a vine-ripened tomato in season.
A local market was having a sale on grape and cherry tomatoes, which I couldn’t resist. They weren’t farm fresh so to get the most out of them I decided to break my summer-imposed no-baking rule and roast them in the oven for 25 minutes, serving them with fresh mozzarella on crunchy bread rounds for crostini.
A perfect summer treat. Roasting tomatoes brings out their sweetness, which I enhance with a little olive oil, garlic, Balsamic vinegar and fresh ground salt and pepper. When they’re done, they keep well in the refrigerator and can be used for a variety of uses — pizza topping, salads, stir fried with chicken, pork, or beef, mixed with pasta, or in an omelet or quiche.
Roasted tomatoes are great on crostini, which means “little toasts” in Italian. Crostini are little slices of bread brushed with olive oil and toasted or grilled until crunchy like a crouton. I like to make mock “mini pizza” crostini with roasted tomatoes and the pièce de résistance — fresh mozzarella.
I buy fresh mozz at Stew Leonard’s in Danbury, Conn. Yes, that Stew Leonard’s. They make mozzarella fresh daily in plain sight. I enjoy watching the man behind the cheese counter putting his glove-clad arms into a vat of boiling water and turning cheese curds into silky smooth mozzarella cheese. There is no greater culinary pleasure than eating a piece of “just made” mozzarella cheese. It has a soft, subtle creamy taste which sexily melts in your mouth. Mmmmm… but I digress.
Crostini with Roasted Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella
For the roasted tomatoes:
2 pints cherry and/or grape tomatoes, cut in half
2 cloves minced garlic
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I like Chiappetta brand, organically grown, it’s light and bright)
2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
Fresh ground salt & pepper to taste
For the Crostini:
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Crostini slices ( I bought a package from Stew Leonard’s. You can make your own by thinly slicing a baguette of bread into rounds, brushing with olive oil and grilling or toasting until crunchy)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare tomatoes by slicing them in half and placing in a bowl. Add minced garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and toss to lightly coat tomatoes.
2. Spread tomatoes onto a baking sheet and bake in oven for about 25 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Cool tomatoes or eat warm.
3. For crostini, place a round of bread on a plate, top with a slice of mozzarella and a spoonful of roasted tomatoes. Drizzle a little olive oil and/or Balsamic vinegar on top if desired.