I spend the hottest part of the summer negotiating with myself over when I can turn on the oven and for how long. As much as I love stone fruit pies, roasted corn, and all that heat can bring to summer’s produce, I am not built for hot weather (or cold, but at least turning on the oven in winter helps alleviate my weaknesses). I should probably take up grilling, since I’m not sure how my neighbours would feel about my visualizations of an outdoor kitchen.
One thing that can motivate me is high summer’s tomatoes. I love roasted tomatoes. I usually slow-roast them, but David Lebovitz‘ quicker method is so good, I might just start using it all the time.
I had a meeting in the backyard while the tomatoes were in the oven, so the heat was only a factor when I was taking them out. I ended up leaving them in a little longer than the recipe calls for, inadvertently, but they came out just the way I like them – soft, jammy, and a bit browned. I roasted them with thyme and rosemary, lashings of black pepper and a little sea salt. They are sweet and savoury in perfect measure.
That was today’s primary activity in making this week’s Cook the Book Fridays selection, but I started preparing this dish yesterday. To make the herbed cheese, I bought some thick, Greek-style yogurt. It was supposed to be goat’s yogurt, but the only containers I could find were huge and the yogurt inside seemed runny. So, on a whim, I used water buffalo yogurt instead. It’s milder than goat, so the finished cheese is less tangy than it would have been, but I really like the results. It’s more like labneh than a soft cheese and it’s perfect for this recipe.
I’ve made chèvre before and loved it, but this recipe is much more likely to be made regularly. It’s easier and can be used in many of the same ways as soft cheeses like goat cheese. Mixed with garlic, shallots, cayenne, and herbs (I used basil, flat-leaf parsley, chives, and thyme), it made a perfect foil for the tomatoes.
The last step was the easiest, but it required a little fortitude. I’d been out in the heat, running errands, and the last thing I wanted to do was turn the oven back on to toast the bread. It was worth it – who can argue with toast that’s been slathered in olive oil before going into the oven and then rubbed with a garlic clove on its way out? But I might cheat tomorrow, if it’s as hot. Toast can be brushed with olive oil on its way out of the toaster, after all.
I actually made this two ways – one version with gluten-free bread, vegan cream cheese, and the roasted tomatoes; the other with the French country bread, the herbed water buffalo cheese, and the roasted tomatoes. The second one was for me and I loved it. The first one didn’t go over as well – the vegan cream cheese wasn’t a perfect match for the roasted tomatoes.
I’ve got enough of everything to do it all over again tomorrow. And if I use my toaster cheat, I won’t have to turn the oven on at all.
If you want to try this yourself (and if you have summer tomatoes available, you should), you can find the recipe here: Cherry Tomato Crostini with Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese. But, buy the book – everything in it is stellar.