Through word of mouth and anecdotally as I stalk local chefs and food nerds on Twitter, I keep hearing that tomatoes aren’t what they should be this year. Personally, I’ve had hits and misses with the tomatoes at the farmers market. I managed to find some pretty good basic red tomatoes, but the yellow pear tomatoes I picked up last week were downright awful. Imagine eating flavorless cotton. Yuck.
However, I really lucked out with the beauties pictured above: a spectacular orange-gold cherry tomato. Candy sweet yet bright with acidity, these tomatoes simply burst with flavor. I can’t seem to keep myself away from them and have brought home a small container for the past few weeks.
Although I could just eat them straight from the container like popcorn, I wanted to make something a little more substantial with them, so I thought of cooking a quick fresh tomato sauce. A little garlic, a little basil, and these tomatoes were all I’d really need. I’ve been bored with pasta lately, so rather than spooning the fresh sauce over something like penne, I decided to use it to top some olive bread toasts. Best. Idea. Ever. The rich, savory olives added another layer of flavor and dimension. Yum.
The most common bruschetta we see in the States is one made with diced fresh tomatoes, not cooked, but since the term “bruschetta” really refers to the toast and not the topping, bruschetta can really be nearly anything you want. Using cooked tomatoes is not unheard of, and in my opinion, quite a delicious variation.
Cooked Cherry Tomato Bruschetta
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 oz. cherry tomatoes (orange, if you can find them), halved
Sea salt (I used grey salt) and pepper to taste
4-5 basil leaves, sliced into chiffonade
Splash of balsamic vinegar
6-8 slices of baguette (olive, sourdough, etc.), toasted
Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds. Add cherry tomato halves and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes have softened, about 5 minutes. Add most of the basil chiffonade (reserve a few strands for garnish) about 1 minute before end of cooking. When tomatoes are cooked, remove from heat and add a tiny splash of balsamic vinegar.
Spoon sauce over baguette toasts and arrange on plate. Garnish with reserved basil and grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.