You Say Tomato, I Say Bruschetta

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September 18, 2012 by jooshanoosh

So right about now you are looking out your kitchen window and thinking, “Good Heavens! What. Have. I. Done!”  Those adorable, three dollar heirloom tomato plants you picked up from Home Depo have now fully swallowed those cute cages (you splurged and got the colored ones: red, yellow and blue) and are now aggressively and successfully taking over your lawn.  You have already done your visiting teaching this month (you really only do it July through September because you have to unload these grenades somewhere and you stupidly went with your sisters to buy the plants so they are as inundated as you are and you’re thinking to yourself, “One of us should have planted Cucumbers”) and the neighbors who just moved in have not even picked up the bag you left on their steps…for the second time.  Well, good thing you are a fervent reader of Part Time Authors because have I got a solution for you!  EAT THEM!  And to help you do that, here are three tried and true killer recipes Lindsay and I have been doing a lot lately, that are tomato based that will have people cheering for you rather than running from you in parking lots.

 *You should note that there is a lot of basil/olive oil going on in all three recipes, but if it ain’t broke…

Number 1: Bruschetta

 Ingredients

  • 2 pints grape tomatoes…or really all three of your Heirloom Tomatoes diced into bite sized squares…so, you know, diced.
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 loaf sesame semolina bread, or a good hard baguette cut on the bias. (that’s right.) 
  • 2 cloves garlic halved…or 3 cloves…or 4.  We like it garlicky at our house. 
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped…Lindsay will do diced red onions instead so should you
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced, good thing you planted that basil plant in your window!

Directions

Dice the Tomatoes into bite sized squares. Cut 2 large “planks” of bread each 1-inch thick by slicing the bread lengthwise horizontally. Reserve the rest of the loaf for another use.
Char bread on both sides (broiler or grill) then rub hot bread with cut garlic.
In a bowl, lightly mash the roasted tomatoes and combine with onions and basil. Top the large planks with tomato mixture then cut each giant crostini into 4 pieces, 8 pieces total.

Number 2:  Caprese Pasta

 Ingredients

  • 4 C. Cherry or similar tomatoes…or diced any kind of backyard tomatoes
  • 8 to 10 Garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
  • ½ C. Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. Spaghetti
  • 1 ½ C. Fresh mozzarella, small cubes
  • Fresh basil and parmesan cheese to garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. In a large baking dish, add the tomatoes, sliced garlic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Bake for about 30 minutes. Tomatoes should be soft and beginning to break open. Remove from the oven.

About 15 minutes before the tomatoes are done, cook your spaghetti according to the package and your preference of doneness.

In large bowl, add the drained pasta, top with the diced mozzarella and roasted tomato mixture and toss. Finish by garnishing with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. Adding a  few grinds of fresh ground pepper completes the dish.

Number 3: Pappa al Pomodoro

Ingredients

  • 5 or 6 or 7 good sized tomatoes from your backyard…any color or combination of colors (I did Red and Yellow!)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves, plus 4 to 6 leaves for garnish
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh sage leaves, plus 4 to 6 leaves for garnish
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1½ pounds country-style bread, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions

1. Dice Tomatoes.
2. In a medium soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds, or until softened but not browned. Add the basil and sage and cook for 1 minute, or until softened and aromatic.
3. Add the reserved tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the tomato mixture is cooked down a little.
4. Add the bread, cover, and cook another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Let the soup sit for a few more minutes to allow the bread to soften and melt into the soup.
5. To serve, ladle into shallow soup bowls, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and garnish each with a basil and sage leaf. Serve immediately.
Advance Preparation:
May be prepared up to 4 hours ahead through Step 4 before serving. The longer it sits, the thicker it will become. Cover and leave at room temperature. Reheat gently.
The clever cook would:
1. Drizzle ½ teaspoon Balsamic Syrup over each serving. (And you should be clever!)
2. Prepare this when you have stale leftover bread.
3. Add a dollop of ricotta cheese…or even better Boursin,  to the soup bowl and then ladle the soup over for a slightly creamy result.

So there you go.  Pull yourself together and get back there and tame that beast!  You are the human after all and you’re not the type of gal whose plants get the best of her.  You are a powerful, independent, pruning sheer wielding woman!  And there’s nothing wrong with grinding your bites ever so slightly when you are eating the fruits of those newly humbled plants of your backyard.  Happy Conquering!    

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