The Joy of Summer Tomatoes and Bread

Add ricotta to your equation of bread plus tomatoes for a summer treat.

Add ricotta to your equation of bread plus tomatoes for a summer treat.

 

Few things are as simple and sublime in the summer as tomatoes on bread.

Be it as a grilled cheese or Catalan-style with the ridges of grilled bread rubbed with garlic, then smeared with the juices of a cut tomato, it doesn’t get better than that.

“Quick Pickled Grape Tomatoes on Ricotta Toast” offers up another way to enjoy that delightful duo.

The recipe is from the new cookbook, “Just Cook It!” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Justin Chapple, of which I received a review copy.

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Chapple is the deputy test kitchen editor at Food & Wine magazine and the host of “Mad Genius Tips,” the magazine’s video series. He’s all about time-saving tricks and clever hacks to get recipes perfect, such as browning beef for “New-School Beef Bourguignon” in a rimmed baking sheet all at once rather than in batches in a Dutch oven on the stovetop. It’s faster — and less messy.

The book comprises 145 of his own fun recipes, including “Smoked Trout, Beet & Radish Matzo Tartines” (that swaps out bread for matzo crackers for open-face sandwiches), “No-Stir Risotto” (that’s made in the oven), and “Cereal Milk Panna Cotta” (that combines almond milk and honey to mimic the taste of Honey Nut Cherrios).

It could not be simpler to make these fast pickled tomatoes.

It could not be simpler to make these fast pickled tomatoes.

Pickled tomatoes on ricotta toast is only slightly more involved than piling fresh tomatoes on milky cheese-slathered grilled bread. That’s because you pickle the grape tomatoes first. But all that takes is heating up rice vinegar with sugar, garlic, thyme and jalapeno. Poke some holes in the tomatoes using a toothpick. Plop all the tomatoes into the simmering vinegar to briefly soften, than transfer it all to a glass jar to cool before using.

That extra step is worth it because the pickled tomatoes pick up extra tang, as well as the flavor of the garlic and jalapeno. The quick cooking also renders their skins more pliable. The result is that they burst with juice the moment you bite into one. The ricotta provides a creamy foundation for them to sit on, as well as helps soak up the juice of the tomato and the pickling liquid.

Juicy and tangy plus creamy -- for a dynamite combination.

Juicy and tangy plus creamy — for a dynamite combination.

The tomatoes, themselves, also would be great tossed into a green salad or pasta salad or snuggled inside a sandwich like a muffaletta. After you’ve eaten all the tomatoes, use the leftover pickling liquid to make a vinaigrette, so nothing goes to waste.

You can pickle a mix of red and yellow cherry tomatoes rather than just all red grape tomatoes, too, which is what I did.

Bread and tomatoes — and ricotta — make for one colorful summer appetizer nobody will ever pass up.

Summer backyard, picnic or weekday lunch fare.

Summer backyard, picnic or weekday lunch fare.

Quick-Pickled Grape Tomatoes on Ricotta Toast

(Serves 4)

1 pint grape tomatoes

1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

2 fresh thyme sprigs

1/2 jalapeno

Kosher salt

1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese

4 thick slices sourdough boule or other rustic bread, lightly toasted or grilled

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Using a toothpick, poke a few holes all over each tomato. In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, garlic, thyme, jalapeno, 1/2 cup water, and 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the tomatoes and return to a boil, then remove from the heat and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Transfer to a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.

Spread the ricotta evenly on toasts. Using a slotted spoon, top the toasts with the tomatoes and a little bit of their pickling liquid. Drizzle with olive oil and season with pepper.

Do It Ahead: The pickled tomatoes can be refrigerated in their pickling liuqid for up to 2 weeks.

From “Just Cook It” by Justin Chapple

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