Classic Roasted Tomato Crostini is every good reason to buy a beautiful crusty French baguette.
Classic Roasted Tomato Crostini is every good reason to buy a beautiful crusty French baguette. I am not sure if anybody else is tired of eating, but I know for me, quarantine has meant cooking. And not only cooking for my family and neighbors, but also cooking for Not Entirely Average. Compared to what makes it onto the blog, I/we cook and eat and give away way more than we share on NEA.
On a very necessary and recent trip to Costco, I was entirely burned out when confronted with so much availability. I literally froze in my tracks somewhere between the fresh seafood and the rotisserie chickens with so many choices. I had zero inclination as to what to buy, and even if I managed to make purchases, what to cook with the ingredients. Is it possible that I have grown tired of eating? Classic Roasted Tomato Crostini is a light and nourishing meal I easily enjoyed during a time traveling the south of France when I was not rushed. I was ‘keeping time’ by a different measure and was influenced by how much I enjoyed food as an experience rather than something we just ‘do.’
I am all about the modern farmhouse style just now. Rustic, French-inspired utilitarian serving pieces are among my most prized kitchen possessions....these swank melamine baguette sets are fantastic for backyard entertaining.
While visiting France, we spent a lot of time just sitting in outdoor cafés, chatting and watching other people. Very slow-paced, very enjoyable, and with no frenzied feeling of having to eat hurriedly so we could get to wherever we were going.
When I was last in France, I recall my experience with food as being ‘relaxing and utterly enjoyable.’ We rented a car in Montpellier and just drove, without real direction or plan. If we were thirsty, we stopped to take coffee or a beer. If we were hungry, we pulled over to a café and took a meal. Part of the glamour came from not caring where we were. The intrigue came about from not knowing exactly what would be on the menu.
I ate many things I was thrilled I had ordered. The dishes were fresh, whole food, much of it grown right where I was eating it, as so many of the little cafés and venues had tiny gardens behind them. I never felt hungry but was always up for eating. So many of the meals we had were light. Lots of vegetables and proteins, a lot of baguette. Nothing fancy, but then it all seemed fancy. And delicious. IT WAS LIBERATING.
As Americans, we are programmed to just ‘go’ and ‘do.’ I cannot say when I last thoroughly enjoyed TIME and everything that was lumped into it, such as a slow meal or a slow coffee or a slow beer or even a slow and very long drive.
While in France, I would experiment with what we would refer to as ‘salad and sandwich’ here in the States. The version is quite different in southern France. The salads were dressed in only olive oil, vinegar and honey. They boasted lots of fresh herbs in a bed of lamb's lettuce or mâché or rocket versus traditional lettuces. Salad was standard with all sandwiches and there was plenty of it. Sandwiches were served open faced and with a knife and fork.
Classic Roasted Tomato Crostini evolved into my miniature toasty version from one of those open-faced sandwiches I dined on in Le Rozier, Lozère. Baguette sliced wide on the bias, honeyed goat cheese, lots of fresh thyme and rosemary and parsley, and the most beautiful roasted tomatoes. I began recreating this meal upon returning home and trying to ‘perfect’ it ever since. This is near as I can recall it, and pretty darn close if I do say so myself. If you begin with true fresh baguette, you will nail it. Food is meant to be savored. To savor means to go slow and to experience. Taste and smell and texture are all attributes we rush through too often.
For the Roasted Tomatoes
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons quality olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence optional; may substitute dried Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
For the Crostini
- 1 French baguette, sliced into 1/2" diagonal slices this will yield 2 individual crostini appetizers per person, approximately 24 slices; adjust number of baguettes for more or less
- quality olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 6 to 8 ounces herbed or honeyed goat cheese, softened if you cannot find flavored goat cheese, you can purchase plain and stir in fresh herbs or dried herbes de Provence, or 1 tablespoon of cream honey
- fresh rosemary and fresh thyme leaves
Prepare and Roast The Tomatoes
- Preheat oven to 325° and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, toss the halved tomatoes with the brown sugar, olive oil, Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Using a wooden spoon, stir until the tomatoes are very well coated.
- Turn the tomato mixture out onto the parchment and turn every tomato halve so that the cut side is facing up. Try to group them in the middle of the baking sheet so they are very near one another.
- Roast the tomatoes for 30 minutes. Prepare the crostini while the tomatoes are roasting.
- Remove from oven at 30 minutes and stir to flip the halves. The liquid beneath the tomatoes will be somewhat thick and sticky. Again try to group them in the middle of the baking sheet so they are very near one another.
- Return to oven and roast 10 minutes more.
Prepare the Crostini
- Once the baguette(s) have been sliced, place on a large baking sheet that has been lined with foil.
- Using an olive oil mister, spray all sides of each piece of baguette. If you do not have an olive oil mister, place all pieces of baguette into a large bowl and toss with 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Be sure to coat all sides of the baguette pieces, but do not saturate.
- Sprinkle the oiled baguette slices lightly with a pinch of Kosher salt.
- Toast the baguette slices in the same 325° degree oven as the tomatoes on the lower rack for approximately 4 minutes per side.
- Remove from oven and arrange on a serving platter to cool.
Assembling the Crostini
- Spoon a teaspoon or two of the softened goat cheese atop each baguette slice and spread it around.
- Top the goat cheese with 2 or 3 tomatoes, and a good drizzle of the remaining oven juice from the tomatoes that is pooled on the parchment. Finally, sprinkle fresh rosemary and thyme leaves atop the crostinis. Serve warm or at room temperature. I like to add a small dish of cream honey or Balsamic glaze and a baton for guests to self-drizzle.