This recipe is all about enjoying the intense earthy deliciousness of roasted summer tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic. The mushrooms have a strong savory, almost meaty flavor, that complements the delicate sweetness of the tomatoes. The roasted garlic is mellow and buttery. Slivered red onion and Kalamata olives add a counterpoint of salt and spice. I adore recipes like this, where you take simple fresh ingredients, cook them to bring out their best, and serve them in a big tempting heap that everyone can’t wait to dig into.
Great if you can find perfectly ripe tomatoes. But the roasting process will bring out their sweetest and best even if the tomatoes are not at their peak.
Crimini mushrooms shrink and intensify in flavor when they are roasted. Just roll them in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper before cooking.
Thinly sliced red onion and slivered Kalamata olives are added at the end, while the roasting pan is still hot. They soften slightly and all the flavors meld, as they are mixed through.
You can use any firm fresh bread, but I like Ciabatta best for grilling.
I make this a lot in the summer when I’m entertaining. And I often bring it to a friend’s house when I’m in charge of appetizers – it’s always a huge hit.
Try sitting around the table with family or friends on a beautiful summer evening, with a platter of roasted tomatoes and mushrooms and grilled bread and a glass of wine. It’s something I enjoy and I hope you will too. Happy first day of summer tomorrow!
- 1 loaf of ciabatta bread or another fresh firm bread, sliced into ½ inch to ¾ inch thick slices.
- Olive oil
- 10-12 large plum tomatoes, rinsed, dried and cut in half lengthwise.
- 1 pound of crimini or baby bella mushrooms (about 24), washed, dried, stems removed.
- 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced into quarters, lengthwise
- 6-8 fresh thyme sprigs plus extra for garnish
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 24 pitted kalamata olives, sliced into quarters lengthwise
- 1 small red onion, peeled, sliced in half from root end to root end, then each half very thinly sliced, crosswise.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Heat grill to medium-high. Lay bread slices on a large tray and brush on both sides with olive oil. (3 tablespoons should be enough for all the bread) Grill bread for a minute or two per side, checking often, until it is crisp in places and there are some grill marks, but it is still supple. After it's grilled, I like to cut each bread slice crosswise into three smaller pieces. Set bread aside. (when bread cools, it can be stored in a sealed baggie for a couple of hours until you are ready to serve)
- Spread 3 tablespoons olive oil over the bottom of a large baking dish with low sides. Sprinkle garlic and thyme sprigs around. Add the tomatoes cut side up. Sprinkle tops of tomatoes with 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds of fresh ground pepper. Flip them over into the oil so they are cut side down.
- Spread 2 tablespoons olive oil over the bottom of a medium baking dish with low sides or a jellyroll pan. Add mushrooms and roll them around in the oil to coat. Turn them so they are stem side down. Sprinkle them with ½ teaspoon of salt and several grinds of fresh ground pepper.
- Roast the tomatoes in the bottom third of the oven and the mushrooms in the top third for 1½ hours, flipping both over after 45 minutes. Remove trays from the oven. (note: cook tomatoes for an extra 5-15 minutes if there's still a lot of liquid in the pan, checking every 5 minutes until the pan juices are reduced and thickened) Add sliced onion and olives to the tomatoes immediately and gently stir to combine, while the pan is still hot, so the onions soften and all the flavors meld. Slice the larger mushroom caps in half, if you like, and add the mushrooms to the mix. Stir gently to combine.
- Heap the grilled tomato and mushroom mixture onto a platter surrounded by the grilled bread. Garnish with fresh thyme, if you like. Enjoy!