Summer is my favorite season! Aside from the great weather, in my part of the world produce is at its best and its usually available or sourced from local farms along the northeast portion of the United States. Although September typically signifies the unofficial end of summer and the beginning of the transition to autumn, there is still plenty of great produce to enjoy that is equally as delicious at the end of summer as it was in the beginning. One thing that stays consistent throughout the season is tomatoes.
There are so many different varieties of tomatoes. One of my favorite is cherry or grape tomatoes. They’re small, sweet, compact, and can be eaten in salads, with sandwiches, as part of a side dish, made into sauces or relish, or eaten whole as a quick snack. This recipe takes the taste of cherry tomatoes to another level by roasting them. With a few simple ingredients and almost no prep time, basic cherry tomatoes become a rich, almost buttery compliment to an easy appetizer or snack.
Crostini has gained fame over the past years because almost all cafes, wine bars, or sidewalk restaurants serve some form of them for an appetizer. They’re so simple to make and can actually be a great substitute for a lunch or a simple dinner. This recipe combines some of my favorite flavors that remind me of time in Italy. The crusty bread gets lightly toasted and has the right amount of crunch and texture. The goat cheese (or if you prefer you can use ricotta cheese or any other pasteurized, soft cheese) adds a unique creaminess and the tomatoes on top can be spread over the cheese like a rich tomato jelly. Its the combination of three distinct tastes and textures in one bite! Pregnant women will appreciate how this simple, easy-to-make snack cuts cravings, provides protein, energy, and fiber. I recommend roasting the tomatoes first and then turning up the oven temperature after to quickly toast the bread. The cheese melts beautifully on the warm bread and then the soft tomatoes sink gently into the cheese. Try this with different types of tomatoes or a combination of grape, cherry, yellow, or green tomatoes. Try this with other soft spreadable cheeses (again, pasteurized is preferred. Surface ripened cheeses where the rinds form from the action of bacteria, yeasts or molds during the aging process are highly discouraged during pregnancy) or even different types of toasted bread like pumpernickel of multigrain. A sprinkle of herbs at the end is great or try adding a little bit of flaked sea salt or “everything bagel” topping, sesame or poppy seeds. The possibilities are endless!
1 baguette of French bread or any type of crusty loaf bread
4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (2-3 tablespoons to brush on the bread and 2 to toss the tomatoes with)
Vegetable cooking spray
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste
16 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
4-5 ounces goat cheese (or Ricotta cheese or a combination of both)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, basil or chives
- Roast the tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 400. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Add the halved tomatoes and toss to coat. Spread the tomatoes on the prepared baking sheet and spread out. Bake 25 minutes until the tomatoes are softened and slightly browned. Set aside and cover loosely to keep warm.
- Toast the Bread: Raise the oven temperature to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the baguette on a diagonal carefully, about 1 wide, to create about 12-24 slices. Brush the top of each slice with olive oil. Bake in for 6 to 9 minutes until the tops are golden and the bread is lightly crusty.
- Build the crostini: While the bread is still warm, spread some of the goat cheese on the tops of the bread slices. Place 1-3 roasted tomatoes on top (leave them whole or smear them if desired). Sprinkle with the herbs or toppings of your choice. Portions can be wrapped in wax paper and plastic wrap and reheated on low temperature slowly in the microwave up to 1-2 days later.