Tomato bruschetta is summer on a plate.
If you grow your own tomatoes or buy them fresh off the vine at a farmers market, you won’t need to do much more than chop, salt, and spoon them over toasted slices of ciabatta, flavored with a little garlic and olive oil. A chiffonade of basil over the top, and you’re done.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t even bother with store-bought tomatoes — those mealy, flavorless orbs — but grape tomatoes offer more options. To roast them into summer-like sweetness year ’round, see Dinner on the Deck (Pimm’s Cup, Roasted Grape Tomatoes, Honey-Walnut Goat Cheese, Raspberry-Ricotta Cake).
To make a different but also delicious bruschetta topping with them, be inspired by the way Cook’s Illustrated does it in their 2017 “All–Time Best Summer Recipes” publication. These bruschetta, accompanied by marinated ciliegine (cherry-sized mozzarella) and assorted salumi, made a fine summer dinner last night, even if it was too hot to dine on the deck. The ricotta layer added a welcome creamy dimension.
Here’s my take on a recipe I intend to return to often.
Tomato & Ricotta Bruschetta
Wash and dry 10 ounces of grape tomatoes. Cut them into quarters, place in a bowl, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of sugar, stirring to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a knife blade, combine 12 ounces of whole-milk ricotta cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Whiz until smooth, about a minute. With the processor still running, drizzle in 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil until incorporated. (If you don’t have a food processor, use an electric hand mixer. The texture might be grainier, but it’ll still taste good.)
Make the toasts with a good quality loaf of ciabatta. (In the absence of a local bakery, can you get La Brea Bakery Take & Bake breads at your favorite grocery store? Kroger carries the line in Arkansas, and it’s excellent. For this recipe, first bake and cool according to package directions, then slice.) Cut the bread into half-inch slices, place on a baking pan, and broil each side until golden brown. (With the oven rack set 6 inches from the broiler, this will take about 1 minute per side, so watch closely.) When the toasts are done, remove from the oven, and rub one side of each with a cut clove of peeled garlic. Follow with a light brush of extra-virgin olive oil.
Transfer the tomatoes to a salad spinner and spin for about 1 minute. (No salad spinner? Drain vigorously with a colander or sieve.) Drain off the accumulated liquid, and return the tomatoes to a bowl. Stir in 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
To assemble, spread each toast with ricotta cheese, add a layer of tomatoes, and finish with shreds of fresh basil leaves.