To-may-to, To-mah-to.

Our tomatoes have been so happy with the heat and humidity that summer has brought to the DC area. To say that I feel the same would be an outright lie, however I do appreciate the bounty of juicy tomatoes our plants have provided because of the weather conditions.

We have so many tomatoes that I have incorporated them into most of our evening suppers. This weekend we had a light late-supper of Onion Omelets and Bruschetta and last night we enjoyed a Home-Grown Tomato Gratin that I served with Shrimp Scampi over Cappellini. The tomato dishes used the same basic ingredients but were prepared in different ways to create two very different meals.

Bruschetta or Tomatoes on Toasted Baguette:
The first time I made this in 2009, I had just seen the movie Julie & Julia and was captivated by how delicious-looking this was. Can you imagine how fun and yummy that dining scene must have been to make?! Now, in my mind, Bruschetta is very controlled and dainty, a small portion of neatly diced tomatoes with a leaf of basil and a slice of mozzarella which is why I didn’t originally recognize this dish in Julie & Julia as being Bruschetta.

This time I kept it simple and quick– I sliced the tomatoes (Yellow Taxi) and tossed them into a bowl with some coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, and some basil and oregano from my herb garden. That’s all. (Last week I diced them and piled mounds of them on baguette.)

I sliced the bread about 1/2-inch thick– much thicker and you’ll have a hard time biting into it. I coated each side with extra-virgin olive oil and toasted it in on a sheet pan in a 350-degree oven for about 5 minutes, flipping once. (We’ve also done this successfully on the grill or you can use a sauté pan on the stove top.)

One the bread is toasted and golden-brown, remove from the oven and carefully (!) rub the cut side of a garlic clove over the entire top of the toast until it glistens.

Once the toasts are coated in garlic, layer the tomatoes on top. (If you chop the tomatoes, pile as many on top of the toasted baguette as possible and then add some more.) There will be liquid left in the bottom of the bowl, pour this over all the toasts so that more of the tomato flavor soaks in. I promise they won’t get soggy, but I can’t promise that they will not be messy.

Dig in and enjoy. If you don’t have tomato juice running down your chin you’ve done something wrong.

Home-Grown Tomato Gratin:
Second dish, same as the first. (Alright, so I used a different herb, some onions, and cheese.)

I used the recipe for Heirloom Tomato Gratin found here. The only changes I made were to use fresh bread crumbs that I made from the baguette I had leftover from this weekend and I halved the amount of cheese. (I love cheese, however we have lactose-intolerance issues in this household so we can’t use it with reckless abandon, as I’d like to.)

The result of this dish were truly epic— I have never tasted something so delicious! The tomatoes are warm, sweet, and tangy, and the bread-crumb crust is crunchy and rich with the flavor of garlic and thyme. Serving this with Shrimp Scampi was a fabulous idea as the flavors played well together. (Sorry folks, no photo of that– we were too busy eating!) I think next time I make these I would love to use individual ramekins– they would make for both a beautiful and delicious dinner party side.

Now, who wants to come for dinner?!


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