Vine-ripened summer tomatoes are incredible. I’m missing them dearly in the middle of winter. It is not just the tomatoes, it is also the heavenly scent of a tomato plant. Someone should come up with a line of summer tomato air fresheners or fragrances. I certainly enjoy the smell on my hands after pinching off and pruning a plant. However the season is several months away. Until then I was able to capture a little of it with roasting tomatoes and using them on BLT Goat Cheese French Bread.
Roasting tomatoes does wonders for flavor. It brings out a depth and even a slight sweetness to otherwise bland store-bought ones. I especially like roasting grape tomatoes. I could just stand there and pop those tasty bites into my mouth one after the other. In fact, you may enjoy them enough that you will find yourself making extra just so you can have them on hand. Just put the extra roasted ones in a container in the fridge and use them within a few days.
BLT Goat Cheese French Bread is an open-faced sandwich. Another option is to cut the finished slices into smaller pieces and serve as an appetizer. I almost called it pizza but I think it doesn’t really qualify for that classification. Pizza is where crust, sauce, and topping are baked together instead of just toasting bread and putting the toppings on later.
About the goat cheese spread: I recommend using a soft goat cheese sold in the form of a log. Put the cheese into a small bowl, press a garlic clove into it, and stir in half-and-half to make it spreadable. The moment you spread it on the warm toasted bread you will get an incredible aroma of garlic. I could have stopped there and ate it right then. I restrained and waited until the bacon, arugula, and those tasty roasted tomatoes were on top of it. The wait was worth it. If you really like goat cheese and garlic, then make a double batch of it so you can have a thick layer on the bread.
A note about preparation: I used two rimmed baking sheets. One is lined with foil so there is fast cleanup after cooking the bacon. It makes it easy to re-use the sheet right away to toast the bread. The alternative is to either wash the sheet or use a third one for toasting the bread. Roast the tomatoes and cook the bacon at the same time. The good thing is they are both done in about 20 minutes. Keep an eye out and take out the tomatoes when the skins start to pop. Take out the bacon when it is cooked to your preferred doneness.
Do you miss summer tomatoes in the winter? Did you can or freeze any from the last season? At least there is the option of roasting them for better flavor in the off-season. I’m thinking of using my extra roasted ones to make a salad dressing similar to the one I used for my BLT Potato Salad Stacks. It’s such fun to get creative in the kitchen. Stay tuned…
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 4 ounces soft goat cheese
- 1 garlic clove, crushed or finely minced
- 2 tablespoons half-and-half
- 1 loaf French bread (see note)
- Baby arugula leaves
- Position oven racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line one rimmed large baking sheet with aluminum foil (wide heavy-duty foil recommended).
- Place slices of bacon on foil-lined baking sheet.
- Place tomatoes on a separate rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss tomatoes to coat with oil.
- Put both baking sheets in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.
- Remove tomatoes when skins begin to pop.
- Remove bacon when crispy or cooked to desired tenderness.
- Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Discard bacon grease or save for another purpose. Discard foil. Crumble bacon.
- Stir together goat cheese, garlic, and half-and-half in a small bowl until combined and smooth.
- Cut French bread in half both vertically and horizontally. Place bread slices on baking sheet.
- Toast French bread in the oven until lightly browned on the edges, about 10 minutes.
- Spread goat cheese mixture on toasted bread slices. Be careful handling hot toasted bread.
- Top with crumbled bacon, arugula, and roasted tomatoes.