Mariel here. This past New Year’s Eve, my husband and I kept things very low key. Long gone are the days of all night celebrations, in fact, I’m lucky if I make it to midnight. This year I did NOT – we went to a 630PM dinner at ‘Cesca on Manhattan’s sleepy Upper Westside, before renting Limitless and tucking in at a geriatric 10PM. Soooo lame….but sooo nice to wake up refreshed on New Year’s Day.
Since our dinner date was the big event, I was relieved that ‘Cesca didn’t disappoint. Everything we indulged in – from the antipasto to the lobster tagiolini – was well worth the splurge. I tend to enjoy appetizers more than the main event – a preference I no doubt picked up from mia madre – and I found myself particularly taken by the crostini. My husband and I shared a sample platter that included tuna tartare, figs & manchego and classic bruschetta, but my absolute favorite was a rustic roasted tomato spread that was sweet and full-bodied, a rich counterpart to the pale winter toms that line the grocery aisle.
I’ve been lacking in inspiration recently – a confluence of major life events has sapped my verve for cooking, but not my appetite for lazy-day fare – so I set my sights on recreating this simple yet divine dish at home. I succeeded…and then some. These make a fabulous passed appetizer or a nutritious addition to your Sunday dinner. I let my roasted tomato compote rest in the fridge for 24 hours before spreading it on crostini, but that isn’t necessary. It was nice to feel those old rumblings of cul-inspiration bubble up again, let’s just hope it sticks around.
PS: My mom just conjured up her own tomato-decked hors d’oeuvres, which led to my original craving, so be sure to check hers out. Sun-Dried Tomato Caprese with Smoked Mozzarella.
Roasted Tomato and Garlic Crostini
Makes about 20 crostini
3 medium beefsteak, jersey or vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered and seeded – $3.98
3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar – stock
¼ teaspoon salt – stock
Freshly ground black pepper – stock
2 Tablespoons olive oil – stock
1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar – stock
Sprinkle of dried thyme – stock
1 thin loaf of french bread or a thin baguette, sliced and toasted (you can also buy pre-made crostini at places like Whole Foods) $2.00
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $5.98
Cost per crostini: $0.30
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place the seeded and quartered tomatoes in a glass casserole dish and toss with the garlic, salt, sugar, black pepper, balsamic and olive oil, coating evenly. Adjust the tomatoes so that they are all skin side down in the pan and cover with tinfoil.
3. Roast for 15 minutes covered, then uncover and roast an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are turning golden around the edges and have rendered their juices. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
4. Dust with a little bit of dried thyme then slice the tomatoes using a fork and sharp knife until you’ve created a thick, pulpy paste. You can store in the fridge for up to three days until you’re ready to serve or you can eat/assemble right away.
5. When you’re ready to eat, toast the baguette slices in your toaster oven, until golden brown.
6. Assemble the crostini by spreading a heaping teaspoon on each slice, or as desired.