Foodstuff: Farm Finds
A quick summer appetizer with grab-and-go market products
Baguette, burrata, blistered tomatoes, basil. Oh, and some garlic, too. These four Bs and a G are simple to find at your friendly, neighborhood outdoor market and make for a delicious, end-of-summer antipasti.
If you’ve ever read my column, you likely know that to find me from June until October, head to the Aspen Saturday Market or the Basalt Sunday Market as I’m almost guaranteed to be there with my tiny, four-legged, fur sidekick in tow, buying pasta and eating baked goods.
This past week, on the hunt for a few items I could grab to create a nice pre-party platter — and with a food-column deadline looming — I was on a specific market quest and decided upon crostini, which I could grill outside and get (almost) everything I need from our local produce purveyors. The bakery line was mercifully short, so I snagged a $7 baguette from Louis Swiss (Buyer beware: They tack on a 20% service charge to all purchases, whether or not you pay in cash). I meandered around the corner for a couple of pints of cherry tomatoes (seven dollars a pop) and grabbed a garlic clove (Four dollars — you must be kidding me). I grow my own basil, so all I had left to do was pop by the supermarket to pick up the cheese*, and I was ready to cook.
If you’re craving something savory and summery, this crunchy, juicy, cheesy combo is quick to make, the flavors can’t be beaten, and it looks great on a plate.
TOMATO BASIL CROSTINI
Serves 4 as an appetizer
2 pints cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
2T avocado oil, divided
1/2t freshly-cracked black pepper
1 large bunch basil
4oz. burrata cheese
1T extra virgin olive oil
More salt and pepper to taste
Preheat a grill to medium heat, or about 325°.
Slice thin rounds of a baguette into 16 toasts, about ¼-inch thick**. Brush evenly with half of the avocado oil (one out of two tablespoons), and set aside while the grill heats up.
Halve the cherry tomatoes, set aside. Mince the garlic, set aside. Pull the cheese out of the refrigerator, and allow it to come to room temperature.
Preheat a large, nonstick skillet on medium-high. Once the pan is hot, add the second tablespoon of avocado oil. Allow it to heat until shimmering. Add the cherry tomatoes, one teaspoon of salt, and one-half teaspoon of pepper to the pan and let reduce until the tomatoes are blistered and jam-like. Once the tomatoes are the right consistency, add the garlic, and reduce the heat to medium, stirring occasionally for about five more minutes. Turn off the heat.
Grill the bread evenly on both sides, being careful not to burn.
Chiffonade the basil, adding about one-half to the cooled tomatoes. Stir to combine.
Once the bread is toasted, spoon about one teaspoon of the tomato mixture onto each piece of bread. Arrange on a platter with the cheese, sprinkle with the additional salt, pepper, and remaining basil, and drizzle with the olive oil. To eat, top each crostini with a spoonful of burrata, and enjoy!
*You can buy this at the store or make your own, as I wrote about a few weeks ago.
**You’ll have about two-thirds of the loaf remaining if you’ve cut the toasts to the correct thinness.
In a glorious, fated moment, I ran into none other than Giada De Laurentiis’ Aunt Raffy at the Basalt market this very same weekend and knew my Italian-American cooking project had been proverbially blessed by the Food Network gods. Aunt Raffy, if you’re reading this, I promise I’m not unstable, just very excited to talk about food and home cooking. Feel free to pass my info on to your niece.
Katherine Roberts is a mid-Valley-based writer and marketing professional who thinks you can’t go wrong with bread, cheese, and tomatoes. Giada, make a note: She can be reached via her marketing agency, Carington Creative, at email@example.com.
Baseball is for everyone; hipsters, gamblers, and drinkers, it doesn’t matter. It brings people together sans the hostility of most sporting events, maybe it’s the calming effect of the greenest possible green that is the field’s grass.