I’m always looking forward to dinners at home. This past weekend it was one of the first few days that I was not working. There’s nothing like sitting around a table with friends and family. I'm bringing all this up since a weekend off is not the norm in a chef’s life. Appetizers are a must for any get-together, whether it’s a backyard barbecue, holiday get-together, or game night. I have a soft spot for toasts, or you can call them crostini. They're quick and easy to prepare so you needn’t spend much time in the kitchen, and less kitchen time equals more quality time with friends and family. There are so many amazing vegetables at the market at this time of the year—mint, basil, corn, vine-ripened tomatoes—and they’re all perfectly suitable for a crostini preparation.
Simple fork-mashed avocado and wedges of grape tomatoes are not only visually appealing, they’re delicious. Also, I like to cut tomatoes into mouth-sized wedges and season them with salt, pepper, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and fresh basil and roast them in the oven at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. It concentrates the flavors and is a nice contrast to the crunchy baked toast.
One of my favorite things to do is stroll through the local farmers market with no particular plan on my mind as to what to cook. I always come home with a bunch of great random seasonal vegetables. Actually, that's how I find my best inspiration for cooking and writing for my blog.
Oven-Roasted Tomato Toast with Avocado
(recipe for four toasts)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4" wedges
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
black pepper from the mill, to taste
1/4 teaspoon sea salt and more for seasoning
4 thick slices of rustic whole grain bread
1 ripe avocado
1 lime, juiced
sea salt flakes (such as Maldone)
1) Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
2) Toss the cut tomatoes with salt and pepper and spread evenly over a cookie sheet pan.
3) Bake the tomatoes for 20 minutes.
4) Drizzle toasts with olive oil and bake 5-8 minutes, until golden brown.
5) De-skin the avocado and remove the pit. In a bowl, mash avocado with the lime juice and sea salt. It should have a chunky consistency.
6) Spread avocado onto the toasts with the baked tomatoes.
7) Garnish with thinly sliced basil and a sprinkle of sea salt flakes.
Chef's Tip: I encourage you to vary the above recipe—e.g., steamed English peas mixed into the mashed avocado sprinkled with finely chopped pink radish and fresh mint.