Grilled Baguette with Heirloom Tomatoes & Goat Cheese

Friday, September 01, 2017

Hi. My #backtobloggingweek went from calm and blogging-friendly to "why on earth did I think I could do this?" within a matter of a few days, ha. But I'm here, and I will double up on recipes this weekend, so technically nothing is lost, right? Right. In other news, September 1st marks my first day back on the Whole30 train in about a year. It's going to be a challenge. But I'm here for it, and low key excited to get back to cooking the things that are better for me to eat. I will get into all of that in future posts. For now, something quick. Literally. I'm not sure why I decided to torture myself looking at these photos but out of all the content I had set aside to potentially post, this one stands out as something you should definitely try before summer is officially over.

One of my favorite things to do in my free time is visiting local farmer's markets and artisanal food shops, especially in the summer. Last summer my commute took me through Aldie, Virginia, a small town off Route 50 in Loudoun County. There's a little store on the side of the road called Brassicas Farm Fresh Market & Café. The first time I had the opportunity to stop in, I fell in love instantly. They offer a small made to order menu and some prepared foods, local wines and craft beers, goods from area farms such as dairy, eggs, and meat, fresh baked bread, and gorgeous produce from their own garden out back. It's a charming place and both the owner and staff were always friendly. Hopefully I'll get a chance to swing by again soon. Unfortunately my current commute takes me in the opposite direction these days.

Here are a few pictures I took from that first visit...

It's probably easy to see how the inspiration came about for this open-faced tomato sandwich! I remember that day being pretty hot, I'd already had a long day at the office, and I was hoping to just throw something quick together for dinner. I grabbed a French baguette, a paper bag full of garden fresh heirloom cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and a package of microgreens. (Mind you, I showed a lot of restraint. This is the kind of store you have to drag me out of because I will blow my entire paycheck on cheese, duck eggs and gourmet vinegars.)

The key to making dishes like this is in the ingredients. It's when you want to be fancy and particular about choosing the best tomatoes available, the artisanal cheese, fresh bread, good olive oil, a nice finishing salt if you have it. People often project an air of pretension onto this sort of thing - and in some cases that's fair criticism - but fuck it. Be Ina Garten for the day and pretend you're putting everything on your tab in the Hamptons. Be Martha and pronounce herbs with the hard "h." Who really cares? This kind of food is some of the best summer has to offer and if it's accessible to you, you should absolutely take advantage of the splurge once in awhile. You might not have a Brassicas in the neighborhood, but maybe there's a farmer's market or butcher with similar offerings; you'll be supporting a local business by spending your money there. Grocery stores like Whole Foods aren't the same kind of off-the-beaten-path shopping experience, but if nothing else you can find a lot of the same artisanal products and farm fresh produce there. (Plus they recently lowered their prices!)

This makes a light dinner, lunch, or (cut into smaller pieces) an elegant crostini appetizer.

Grilled Baguette with Heirloom Tomatoes & Goat Cheese

Heirloom cherry tomatoes
Kosher salt or a specialty sea salt
Cracked pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Soft goat cheese
Microgreens (my faves are basil and kale)

The quantities don't matter here...just make enough for what you plan to eat right away. If you can't find microgreens, use a bit of finely chopped basil. Use a good quality honey for a real treat - you can often find them near the cheese counter or at artisanal shops. I've tried this with a spicy honey, lavender honey, and truffle honey. Same with the salt. I used a smoked Maldon sea salt. If you have a fun finishing salt you've been itching to try, go for it. You don't need much, just a pinch to bring out the flavors of the tomatoes.

Active Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Yield: Varies
Special Equipment: sharp paring knife, cast iron grill pan (skillet or griddle could be used instead)

Cut cherry tomatoes into thin slices. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and toss together in a small bowl. Set aside to allow a few minutes for the juices to start releasing.

Preheat grill pan or skillet until just shy of smoking. Cut the baguette in half lengthwise, then into pieces that can fit comfortably across your grill or skillet. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Grill the bread for a minute or two, until nicely toasted and charred in spots. Set aside.

Once bread is cool enough to handle, smear it with the goat cheese. Top with sliced tomatoes. Drizzle the tomatoes lightly with honey. Top with microgreens. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Serve immediately and wait for your credit score to increase.

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