Makes:8 to 10 servings
Roasting tomatoes concentrates their natural sugars and intensifies their flavor. Piling them on grilled garlic toast with milky slices of fresh mozzarella and basil creates an easy, elegant appetizer.
8 ounces crusty Italian bread, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoonsolive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium garlic clove
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into very thin slices
6 to 8 medium, fresh basil leaves
For the roasted tomatoes:
Heat the oven to 325°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Slice 1/8 inch off both the top and bottom of the tomatoes. Stand each tomato on one end and slice downward, following the curve and cutting just into the flesh, leaving behind the seeds (the pieces you cut off will resemble petals). Discard the seeds and pulpy portion.
Combine the tomato petals with the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Spread the tomato petals, cut-side down, on a baking sheet spaced about 1/2 inch apart. Pour the remaining contents of the bowl over the tomatoes.
Roast the tomatoes until they’re shriveled and dark red but still hold their shape, about 45 to 50 minutes. (If you have larger tomatoes, they may take longer.) Cool on the baking sheet. Remove and discard the garlic, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf pieces. Using a spatula, transfer the tomatoes to a cutting board and chop into small dice. Set aside at room temperature while you prepare the bread.
For the bread:
Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high (about 375°F to 425°F).
Meanwhile, arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Using 1 tablespoon of the oil, very lightly brush the tops of the bread with the oil. Flip the slices over and brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Generously season one side only with salt and pepper.
Place the bread on the grill (reserve the baking sheet) and cook until grill marks appear and the bread is toasted and crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Return the grilled bread to the reserved baking sheet, seasoned-side up, and rub the seasoned sides with the garlic clove.
While the grilled bread pieces are still warm, divide the mozzarella slices among them and season lightly with salt. Divide the roasted tomatoes evenly over the mozzarella. Tear the basil leaves into bite-size pieces and sprinkle over the tomatoes. Cut the bruschetta into pieces if desired and serve.