For maximum effect serve this beautiful bruschetta whole, then simply cut to order.
7 large vine tomatoes, stem on
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
150 grams soft goat’s cheese or feta cheese
1 long sourdough or baguette
1 clove garlic
4 tablespoons olive tapenade or other favourite paste such as artichoke or eggplant
14 large basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
Slice the top off each tomato and set aside. Scoop out the centres and discard, taking care not to pierce the sides of the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in a lightly oiled baking dish.
Crumble the cheese and fill the tomato cavities. Combine the olive oil, thyme and garlic and spoon over the cheese, letting it run inside the tomato. Grind over some black pepper. Replace the reserved tops and brush with olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender but not collapsing. Cool for 10 minutes to let them set up, before lifting out of the baking dish.
To serve: Halve the bread lengthwise and brush the cut side of the bottom half of the bread with olive oil. If necessary trim the base so it sits flat. Freeze the remaining half for another purpose. Grill, oiled side down, until golden then rub with a cut clove of garlic. Spread with the tapenade and place the bread on a long board or serving platter. Position the tomatoes along the bread, placing two basil leaves under each. Drizzle with any juices from the baking dish. Slice between the tomatoes and serve as an entrée or light lunch. Cuts into 7 pieces.
You will find a selection of tapenades, vegetable pastes and spreads at good food stores and markets.