My favorite vegetable is a juicy and flavorful tomato. Garden ripe tomatoes are available for only a few months in the summertime. I will never tire of this vegetable. And so I am delighted to see that our neighborhood grocery store now stocks “tomatoes on the vine.” They are a close substitute. Expensive, but worth it. A great way to serve these tomatoes is a topping for bruschetta. Tomatoes, French bread, cheese and olive oil–a healthy combination. Yum!
Tomatoes “On the Vine”
The tomatoes came in a sealed cellophane bag from Village Farms in Marfa, Texas. It turns out that these are hydroponic tomatoes, grown in a greenhouse and fed water and fertilizer–no soil. In an controlled environment, with few insects and diseases, the tomatoes are perfect — juicy and flavorful; no blemishes.The company’s WEB site says that they are one of the largest producers of hydroponically grown tomatoes in the US. It’s a public stock traded company. The “farm” is huge and includes 120 acres of greenhouses in Texas and British Columbia. The company is working on developing high-end tomatoes to increase their profit margin. I Guess that means higher prices for me. Well, I get top quality tomatoes. A trade off?? I just bet we’ll see more of these “farm” in future years.
Recipe from “Down the Bayou and Back Again” Cookbook
I found the recipe for bruschetta while browsing through a cookbook given to my by cousin who was downsizing her stash of books. It’s from the Bayou Civic Club of Larose, Louisiana, deep in the heart of Cajun country. Larose is a tiny fishing community along Bayou Lafourche, one of the oldest settled areas in Louisiana. It is southwest of New Orleans close to the Gulf of Mexico. It is surrounded by marshes and bayous. Sometimes it is difficult to tell which is marsh and which is land.
Some of the best recipes are from cookbooks compiled by a community groups where the cooks submit their favorite recipes. This cookbook, “Down the Bayou and Back Again”, is one of those books. Since the cooks lived along the waterways, the recipes include lots of fish, shrimp, seafood and local produce. Some are “Cajun” recipes and some are just favorite ones such as the brushetta recipe. All look delicious and I see many recipes I’d like to try.
Bruschetta is an Italian recipe. Quite simply it means bread which is grilled or toasted and drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with fresh garlic. It can include many toppings and often is served as an appetizer. Frequently, the topping for bruschetta is diced tomatoes, herbs and cheese.
Slice the French bread at an angle and spread with olive oil. Toast in 375 degree oven for about 5 minutes until crispy and browned. Don’t over-bake and burn the bread. Toasting the bread enhances the flavor and prevents soggy bread when the tomatoes are added. Then rub a fresh clove of garlic on the toasted bread. Just 2 or 3 sweeps on each slice the bread is plenty to pick up a taste of garlic without being overpowering.
Then drain the tomatoes, add a spoonful onto each slice of bread, add cheese and toast for a few minutes to melt the shaved cheese.
Bruschetta with Tomatoes on the Vine
- 1 loaf of crusty French bread (13 oz to 1 lb)
- 1/4 cup olive oil, approximately
- 2 fresh garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
- 4 medium vine ripe tomatoes, finely chopped (1 lb as purchased or 2 cups chopped)
- 2 Tbsp white onion, finely minced
- 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely minced
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 3 oz shaved fresh Parmesan cheese
Ingredients for optional tomato paste spread:
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground oregano
- 1/2 tsp crushed basil
Method and Steps:
- Make tomato topping. This can be made earlier in the day and kept chilled in refrigerator. In medium bowl combine finely chopped tomatoes, onion, parsley, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Set aside
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Slice the French bread crosswise at an angle, about 3/4″ slices. Place slices on baking sheet.
- Brush olive oil on top of each slice.
- Bake in 375 degree oven for 5 minutes until crisp and slightly browned. Don’t over bake. Remove from oven and let set a few minutes until slices can be handled.
- Rub whole peeled garlic clove on tops of slices of French bread. Two to three lengthwise rubs are plenty.
- Make tomato paste spread. (Optional.) In small bowl combine tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, oregano and basil. Stir to combine. Spread a thin layer on each slice of French bread.
- Return to oven and bake for about 3 minutes longer until tomato paste spread is heated through. Remove from oven. Leave on baking sheet.
- Drain tomatoes. Top each slice of toasted bread with spoon of marinated, drained tomatoes.
- Add a few slices of shaved Parmesan cheese on top of tomatoes. Return to oven and heat for 1-2 minutes until cheese melts.
- Serve immediately.
Okay, we ate the entire loaf!