Whenever I make this appetizer, I am transported to a fish shack in the Florida Keys. A gentle breeze is blowing and the sun is reflecting against the brilliant blue waters. Actually Charlie’s had no menu. Charlie simply prepared what he had on hand on any given day. I was lucky enough to be the sole diner on my visit and was delighted with a series of small plate dishes. To my surprise, one of them was roasted tomatoes atop a cheese smeared slice of bread. Not the usual fare at a fish shack but then Actually Charlie’s was not a normal fish shack.
My version of Charlie’s roasted tomatoes uses Charlie’s idea but I have so changed the actual ingredients that he wouldn’t recognize it. In fact, he would probably growl at me but always with crinkled eyes in a slight smile. I’m not sure how he would feel about the blue cheese but he would approve of the fact the original reason behind its use is the only cheese on hand at the time was a chunk of blue cheese. It was such a great contrast to the tomatoes, it stayed in further versions.
The yellow heirloom cherry tomatoes provide a less acidic and sweeter flavor than red tomatoes. Substituting plain yellow cherry tomatoes will also provide an acceptable outcome. Slow roasting the tomatoes with the onions, pepper and garlic allows the flavors to meld and brings out every bit of the tomato sweetness. Leaving the tomatoes whole allows them to “pop” their juices as they heat.
The blue cheese has a bold flavor providing a great balance between the sweet roasted tomatoes and the hearty rye bread. However, to stay with the spirit of the recipe, any cheese and bread combination may be used. Each will provide a different flavor experience.
2 pints yellow heirloom cherry tomatoes
1 c chopped sweet onion
½ c chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 t kosher salt
½ t black pepper
2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T fresh thyme, chopped
1 T olive oil
1 round loaf rye bread
4 oz blue cheese, room temperature
2 T chives
Preheat oven to 250°.
Spread tomatoes, onion, green pepper and garlic on a sided baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Mix to evenly distribute. Place in oven. Bake 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and stir around baking sheet to redistribute evenly on sheet. Place in oven and bake an additional 45-60 minutes until a tomatoes have browned. Remove from oven.
Sprinkle thyme over tomatoes and stir to distribute. Place back in oven for 2 minutes to wilt herb.
Place in a bowl and allow to cool while preparing bread.
Heat oven to 450°. Slice the loaf of rye bread in half lengthwise. Slice each side into 1/4 inch slices. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush slices with olive oil. Place in oven and bake 5-7 minutes until browned.
Spread blue cheese on warm bread crostini.
Divide the tomato mix between the bread slices. Sprinkle with chives. Serve.