Chopped tomatoes are added to salads of course, but also to soup. Slices of ripe tomato are a natural on sandwiches, especially my annual BLT with the first of the larger tomatoes. This year that’s an heirloom variety called Black Krim. It is large and juicy and meaty and has the most intense and wonderful tomato flavor. It looks a bit unusual because it isn’t red, or even burgundy. The top tends to be green, ranging from a dark forest green to chartreuse. Lower down the globe you get reddish-brownish flesh with bits of pink here and there. It also makes quite a statement on a platter of variously hued heirloom tomatoes.
The other tomato, and the one that has been the most prolific, is called Costelutto and it is bright red when ripe and has deeply lobed fruits. It seems to me to have more seeds than the Krim, but it makes a lovely classic tomato soup or pasta sauce.
Last night friends were joining us on our deck for a glass of wine before going to dinner at Della Fattoria in Petaluma. Even though I knew the restaurant was featuring tomatoes, I just had to make crostini pomodoro to go with the wine.
My good friend H is one of the most accomplished hostesses I know, so I wanted to make something worthy of her entertaining style. I knew she loved bread and olive oil, and I had all of these tomatoes and even fresh basil from the garden, so this seemed like the perfect finger food …and it was. This is very simple food, so I’m writing out the recipe as a narrative. Pretend that it’s in my own handwriting on a piece of scratch paper…friends exchange recipes that way sometimes.
Roughly ½ inch slices of a good baguette (I used Village Bakery Seeded Sourdough) are laid out flat and lightly brushed on both sides with olive oil. After quick toasting on the grill, they get rubbed with the cut end of a clove of garlic. This is the crostini part.
Earlier in the day I had peeled, seeded (mostly…those seeds are so small and some get into the dish despite my best attempts), and chopped. The chopped tomatoes and collected juices go into a medium bowl. A tablespoon of olive oil. a half teaspoon of salt, and 5 or 6 basil leaves (finely chopped) are added, a few grinds of black pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar finish off the pomodoro part. If you can let this mixture sit to meld the flavors for an hour or so that’s a good thing.
When it is time to serve, each crostini is topped with about a tablespoon of the tomato mixture, then a small basil leaf goes on top of that. I served them at room temperature and none were left by the time we left for dinner.
This appetizer counts on good, simple ingredients. Use flavorful bread, good quality olive oil, ripe and juicy tomatoes and fresh basil. You’ll be glad you did.