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Toasted Bread with Caramelized Tomatoes and Ricotta

In Italy, a favorite snack is a thick slice of bread rubbed with tomato and seasoned with olive oil and salt. Here, that satisfying combination is enhanced with creamy fresh ricotta and roasted cherry tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbs. fennel seeds, coarsely pounded or crushed
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 lb. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 12 slices crusty country bread, each 1/2 inch thick
  • 8 oz. fresh sheep’s milk ricotta or well-drained cow’s milk ricotta

Directions:

In a small bowl, stir together the 1/4 cup olive oil, the garlic, fennel seeds and a generous grinding of pepper. Let stand for about 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 300°F.

Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Spoon the olive oil mixture over the tomatoes and sprinkle with the salt. Bake until the tomatoes are partially shriveled and browned in spots but are still juicy, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer to a bowl, taking care to scrape any juices and browned bits from the baking sheet into the bowl.

Position a broiler pan 4 inches below the heat source and preheat the broiler.

Arrange the bread slices on a large baking sheet and brush the tops with olive oil. Slip under the broiler and broil until the edges are lightly browned and the tops are golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

Spread a heaping 1 Tbs. of the ricotta on each slice of bruschetta and top each with a heaping 1 Tbs. of the caramelized tomatoes. Arrange the bruschetta on a platter and serve. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti (Weldon Owen, 2011).