Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes on Toasted Crusty Bread

oven-roasted tomatoes on toasted crusty bread

Another firm family favourite especially for lunch in summer.

If you were in Italy this would of course be called bruschetta! But we can do it equally well here especially as the tomatoes are just bursting with flavour right now. In fact, if you don’t have great tomatoes, I would say skip this dish. It’s so simple to put together but the ingredients must be the best.

 I prefer to use cherry tomatoes especially as my friend Elaine has a surfeit in her vegetable garden here in our village of Assos. They’re not indigenous, cherry tomatoes, she brought the seeds back from England! From a presentation point of view,the size is perfect. I have also used medium tomatoes as specified in the actual recipe: tastewise delicious, but too big to sit well on the slice of bread!

The bread you choose is crucial as well: it must be rugged-looking, rustic, and hearty, the sort that makes you want to tear a hunk off there and then. Here in Assos we have no shortage of bread like this! We often buy ours in Ayvacık from the municipal bakery or fırın:  you can get it sliced if you want if it’s not straight out of the ovens, and they slice generously, perfect for this recipe.
I think this bread adds a new dimension to 'crusty'!

Ingredients for Oven-Roasted Tomatoes on Toasted Crusty Bread

Adapted from a River Cafe Cook Book Green recipe

For 6

12 ripe medium tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Extra virgin/sızma olive oil

Balsamic vinegar/balsamik sirkesi

3 tbsp fresh purple basil leaves/ reyhan, torn

6 slices sourdough bread or any hearty village bread, about 1.5 cm thick


·         Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.

·         Place the tomatoes and 5 garlic cloves in a small roasting tray or pyrex dish. Pour over a little extra virgin olive oil and 2 tsp balsamic vinegar. Roast in the oven till the flesh is soft and the skin has burst, about 10 mins. Turn the tomatoes over in their juices.  Add the basil and 1 further tbsp balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

looking and smelling luscious

·         Toast the bread on both sides, then rub lightly on one side only with the remaining garlic. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and spoon on the tomato mixture.


1.       I  found a half full jar of red peppers in the fridge, presumably left by one or other of the daughters, and mixed a few with the roasted tomatoes.  A great combination and in fact one suggested by River Cafe. You can roast them yourself but that belongs to another post.

2.       At that point I didn’t have the purple-leafed basil handy but my neighbour kindly sent some of the small green leafed variety  over the garden wall!  It is commonly kept on tables outside to ward off flies.  But it’s edible and tasted just like basil should..

3.       To get that wonderful stripy effect with your toast, simply use a hot griddle pan. Drizzle olive oil over your slices of bread and toast on both sides. Yum.

Afiyet olsun!

This same neighbour was holding a mevlut or religious ceremony in her garden the day our family arrived down here. She invited not just one but both the village imams who intoned prayers and readings through their microphones all afternoon.  She had also invited us but we had diplomatically told her that the children were arriving.  Afterwards, there was a typical village feast which all the women had been busy preparing in the morning and a little while later she came staggering round with an enormous tepsi or tray with generous helpings of each of the dishes for all of us! We have been friends and neighbours for about 17 years!

The most unusual dish is the one on the left: it's called keşkek, a grain, and is a highlight of all village feasts celebrating weddings, engagements or circumcisions and the like in this area.