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Summer Bruschetta

August 17, 2010

After a long, hot summer day, it’s not difficult to understand why a simple and light main course would be in order for dinner.  Wilson and I have been playing tennis a lot in the late afternoon so that by the time it’s dark, we’re quite tired and want nothing more than to kick back and settle into a relaxing evening. For some reason, the idea hadn’t occurred to me earlier this summer to make bruschetta. They’re wonderful little open-faced sandwiches and generally regarded as an appetizer.  But being the mavericks that we are, Wilson and I decided to just fix a lot of them, have a salad alongside, and deem them a meal.

The bruschetta turned out perfectly refreshing but also decadent and very flavorful. The first step was to roast quartered plum tomatoes seasoned with rosemary. In the oven, they become caramelized with a deeply concentrated and sweet flavor.  They would turn almost any pizza, pasta, or sandwich into a success. Then, we sliced some multigrain baguette and put the bread into the oven to become slightly brown and crisp while the tomatoes cooled. The finished toasts were topped majestically with ricotta, then proscuitto, the roasted tomatoes, and the tiny torn leaves from Wilson’s basil plant. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the whole thing added the perfect amount of acidity to allow the other flavors to brighten and intensify.

This was such an easy meal to prepare and a joy to eat. We sat on the sofa assembling our bruschetta and watching Top Chef, a show we look forward to every week.  I think this is a dish we’ll definitely make again – the flavors worked brilliantly together. But more importantly, it’s an example of the food that Wilson and I love for it’s simplicity and its spotlight on fresh ingredients that work on their own to create a delicious meal we can share together.

Bruschetta with Rosemary, Roasted Plum Tomatoes, Ricotta and Prosciutto

  • 6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 large plum tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), quartered lengthwise
  • 12 1/2-inch-thick diagonally cut baguette slices (each 3 to 4 inches long)
  • 12 tablespoons ricotta cheese, divided
  • 6 thin prosciutto slices, cut in half crosswise
  • fresh basil leaves, torn
  • lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 425°F. Stir 6 tablespoons oil, garlic, rosemary, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in large bowl to blend. Add tomato quarters and stir to coat. Let stand 5 minutes. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Lift tomatoes from marinade and arrange, cut side down, on prepared baking sheet (reserve marinade for toasts).

Roast tomatoes until skin is browned and blistered and tomatoes are very tender, about 35 minutes. Cool tomatoes on sheet. Maintain oven temperature.

Meanwhile, arrange bread slices on another rimmed baking sheet. Brush top of each with reserved marinade (including garlic and rosemary bits).

Roast bread until top is golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool toasts on sheet.

Spread 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese on each toast; sprinkle with pepper. Fold prosciutto halves over and place on ricotta. Arrange 2 tomato quarters atop prosciutto. Finally, top the proscuitto with the torn basil, a good squeeze of lemon juice, and serve.

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