Good food is really so simple. In the thick of tomato season, every restaurant, bistro and cafe in America is featuring a tomato salad or appetizer of some sort (if they're smart!). However, so many times when I order out and about, I'm disappointed. Sometimes there is an infused vinaigrette dousing the tomatoes, or the bread isn't toasted, or the tomatoes are not good and flavorful. The worst is when there are two thin tiny slivers of tomato and the tiniest bit of mozzarella. Ugh. Bounty, folks! It is summer, I want a huge, huge tomato salad.
Keeping it simple is the key. And big and bountiful. Delicious summer tomatoes rarely need anything but a little sea salt and olive oil. While this is hardly a complex recipe, there are a few key details that shouldn't be skipped or (worse) embellished.
If you come to our house July - August, you will likely be confronted by this platter with a glass of rose before dinner, or as a side dish with steaks, shrimp, fish, etc. It is also so lovely to take to a party - beautiful and goes with almost any summer menu.
This is everything you need.
Fresh Basil Leaves
Good French Bread
1 Garlic Clove
Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper
Grilled Garlic Toasts.
We'll start with the Grilled Toast. I love grilled bread with tomatoes. Something about the slight char bitterness and crunch with the silky sweet tomatoes that is so divine. You can also toast/broil in the oven for a couple of minutes to achieve the same browning. I like to only toast one side so the other side stays soft. After you grill or broil for about 2 minutes, remove from heat at rub all over with a garlic clove immediately. The heat from the toast take the slightest bite out of the garlic.
I slice the baguette into very thin pieces - maybe 1/4 inch. Any thicker then it will be hard to bite into when topped with tomato.
If you don't have an oil bottle with a pour spout, get one. I missed mine so much - I didn't realize how much a relied on it for quickly drizzling oil over bread, veggies, everything.
I place mine on a baking sheet ready to go out to the grill, or go into the oven.
I usually slice the garlic clove in half - 1 clove will work for an entire loaf.
It is easy to make this appetizer look beautiful - the tomatoes do all of the work for you. I really like them all lined up. It is modern and clean, but very bountiful, too. I like to do a couple of big bunches of basil leaves instead of chopped. Mike is not a big fan of basil, so this makes it easy for him to avoid and others to pick whole leaves.
This is the Classic Service Tray in my store with a Pewter Finish. It is the perfect size for an appetizer platter.
Just before serving, I drizzle olive oil and sprinkle sea salt and pepper - generously.