It’s high summer, tomatoes are at their peak, and the grill can be fired up at a moment’s notice. Grilled Cherry Tomato Bruschetta is a deliciously easy appetizer that can double as a light meal.
I saw the idea on Todd and Diane’s blog, White on Rice Couple. They were celebrating a bumper crop of their own backyard tomatoes…I got mine at the farmers market, but the result is the same in either case — I got a little carried away scooping up these colorful beauties and I now need to eat them up at every meal. Not a bad problem to have.
I think cherry tomatoes are the best tomatoes. They have fantastic flavor, and they hold their own when you cook them. They might sputter and spit when they hit the hot grill, and might burst a seam or two, but basically they hold together, and get even more flavorful as they heat up.
My favorites are the little heirlooms, at our farmers market they come in all shapes and colors. Each one has a distinctive flavor, too. They’re insanely good for snacking, and for scattering on salads, but if you can bear to save any for this dish, you’ll be glad you did.
Just thread the tomatoes on slim bamboo skewers…mine were 8 inches long and quite thin, almost like long toothpicks. Heavier skewers will be too thick for tiny cherries. I kept the little tops on for fun, but you probably want to remove them, they look pretty but don’t taste good.
A quick brushing with a good olive oil and vinegar marinade is all they need.
They cook up in a flash, I do mine in a grill pan on the stove. Leave them just until they get get a little color – it takes hardly any time at all for them to soften to perfection.
For the bread I use a small 12″ baguette and cut it in half. Then I slice each half lengthwise to form 4 flat pieces, each about 6 inches long. I brush them with olive oil and grill them for just a minute or so, until they get nice grill marks. The grilled bread gets slathered with a soft, fresh goat cheese. Any type will do, but I have fallen head over heels for this brand. It’s got a texture like nothing else I’ve ever tasted, and it spreads beautifully.
Ease your tomatoes off the skewer and onto the bread, they’ll slide right off. Spoon on a little more of the marinade over everything and let it soak down into the nooks and crannies of the bread. Scatter a palmful of fresh thyme over it all —- delicious. I like to crush a couple of the tomatoes to let their juices flow. The whole thing is a lovely experience, whether you eat it with your hands, or with a knife and fork. (Hands are actually easier.)
I’m thinking about adding some prosciutto next time and making a complete meal out of it.
- 8 inch thin bamboo skewers
- assorted heirloom cherry tomatoes (approximately 60 of the tiny kind)
- 1 small 12" baguette
- olive oil for brushing
- 1 5-oz package spreadable goat cheese
- fresh thyme leaves
- 5 Tbsp good olive oil
- 3 Tbsp good balsamic vinegar (I used O Olive Oil Fig Balsamic)
- Thread cherry tomatoes onto the bamboo skewers and set aside. Leave space at one end so you can handle them. Depending on the size of your tomatoes you might need 6 or 7 per skewer. Less if you are using larger cherry tomatoes.
- Blend the olive oil and vinegar together in a small jar. Taste to adjust the proportions if you like.
- Cut the baguette in half, and then slice each half lengthwise.
- Heat a grill pan over medium high heat until hot. Brush the cut side of each baguette with olive oil and place cut side down on the grill to toast. It won't take long, leave them just long enough to get nice grill marks. I like to press the bread down with a spatula to make good contact with the grill. Remove and set aside.
- Brush the tomato skewers with the marinade, and place them down on the hot grill. Let them cook for just a minute or two, rolling the skewer occasionally to cook them evenly, until they start to char and blister just a bit.
- Spread the goat cheese thickly on each piece of bread, and top with the tomatoes from two skewers. Gently slide the tomatoes off onto the bread. Drizzle with a little more marinade, and scatter with fresh thyme. Enjoy immediately.
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More cherry tomatoes…