Seriously Simple: My go-to appetizer for a taste of summer any time of year

Seriously Simple: My Go To Appetizer For A Taste Of Summer Any Time Of Year
Diane Rossen Worthington/TNS

These toasts are Seriously Simple to prepare.

<p>These toasts are Seriously Simple to prepare.</p>

Diane Rossen Worthington/TNS

These toasts are Seriously Simple to prepare.

Nothing makes me as happy as serving (and enjoying) this incredibly delicious appetizer with a chilled glass of rose. While I love to serve this in the warm summer months, you can prepare these any time of year since cherry tomatoes are available year-round.

I often make a big batch of slow-roasted tomato jam in the summer to use in fall recipes, but when I want to enjoy the caramelized tomato, shallot and garlic mixture at the last minute, I’ll reach for a saute pan and make a smaller batch right on top of the stove. It takes just a few minutes to put together. And best of all it doesn’t overheat the kitchen.

So Seriously Simple to prepare, these toasts incorporate the flavors of warm summer days with a Provencal touch. The tomato mixture includes golden shallot slivers and softened sweetened garlic cloves. The thyme branches add their own Mediterranean twist. Toast the bread slices two hours ahead and assemble right before serving.

Cherry Tomato Crostini with Ricotta Cheese

Makes 16 Crostini

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 pint yellow and red cherry tomatoes
  • 2 branches thyme
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 (1/2-inch thick) baguette slices
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese, full-fat preferred
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

1. Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the shallot and saute for 2 minutes or until slightly softened. Add the garlic and continue sauteeing another 2 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, thyme branches, salt and pepper. Cook the tomatoes on medium-high heat, covered, for about 7 minutes, or until the tomatoes burst and the garlic is softened.

3. Roll the tomatoes around the skillet while it is covered to evenly cook the tomatoes every 30 seconds. Remove cover, remove the thyme branches, mash the tomatoes with a fork and let cool. Taste for seasoning.

4. While the tomatoes are cooling, toast the baguette slices until lightly browned. Cool.

5. Arrange the toasts on a rectangular platter and place a teaspoon or so of ricotta cheese in the middle of each toast. Spoon the some tomato mixture on top of each crostini and garnish with basil. Serve.

Advance preparation: The tomato mixture can be made two days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.

(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)