A slow roast at a low temperature caramelizes the cherry tomatoes on this hearty bruschetta, intensifying their sweet flavor and giving them a tender texture. This makes a great appetizer for a simple Italian meal, or a light supper when paired with a salad.
Bruschetta con Pomodorini (Toasted Bread with Caramelized Tomatoes and Ricotta)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fennel seeds, coarsely pounded or crushed
Freshly ground pepper and fine sea salt
1 1/2 lb. cherry tomatoes, halved
12 slices crusty country bread, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
8 oz. fresh sheep’ s milk ricotta or well-drained cow’s milk ricotta
In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic, fennel seeds and a generous grinding of pepper. Set aside and let stand for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 300° F. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Spoon the olive oil mixture over the tomatoes and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bake until the tomatoes are partially shriveled and browned in spots but still juicy, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer to a bowl, taking care to scrape any juices and browned bits from the baking sheet into the bowl.
To make the bruschetta, position a broiler pan 4 inches below the heat source and preheat the broiler. Arrange the bread slices on a large baking sheet and brush the tops with olive oil. Slip under the broiler and broil until the edges are lightly browned and the tops are golden, 1-2 minutes.
Spread a heaping tablespoon of the ricotta on each slice of bruschetta and top each with 1 heaping tablespoon of the caramelized tomatoes. Arrange the bruschetta on a platter and serve.