01 09 10

search you little tarte

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Birthday Wishes and Tomatoes

Today, February 2nd, is Ina Garten's birthday.  I think she's a little older than I am but since my birthday is on the 8th, I'm going to stretch and say that we're practically twins.  Well, not really, but it makes for good copy.  Anyway, I just thought I would start this post out with a little birthday greeting to my favorite Barefoot Contessa, Ina.

Now, on to the business at hand -- Red Pack tomatoes.  Yes, I am still cooking with Red Pack tomatoes and I have to say that it's been going quite well.  I never really thought about how many recipes call for canned tomatoes until I started actively seeking them out as an ingredient.  Canned tomatoes have to be up there on the most used ingredient list along with salt and pepper.

So, here it is, February and Ina's birthday and all I can think about is summer.  I love the summer.  I even love the hot, humid Pittsburgh summer.  Let's face it, once you've withstood a Pittsburgh winter, any kind of summer is welcome.  Even one that's less than, shall we say, Mediterranean.

But getting back to the summer.  One of my favorite things about the summer are the fresh tomatoes.  They're just delicious.  Ted has become Mr. Tomato Farmer in the past couple of years and our crop has been pretty impressive.  Last summer my friend Ellen gave me a couple of heirloom tomato plants to add to my garden and they yielded a ton of tomatoes.  All of those tomatoes led to a lot of caprese salads.  As far as I am concerned, with the exception of homemade ice cream, there is no food that says summer quite like a caprese salad.   Perfection.  (Really cute sandals also say summer but that's for another day.)

But alas, it is winter and the fresh tomatoes have all taken a long trip to get to my neighborhood Giant Eagle.  Truly, the only thing they have in common with summer tomatoes is that they are red.   So, this got me thinking about how I could have that feeling of summer in the dead of winter.

Enter the caprese salad.  I was thinking about Red Pack tomatoes and it occurred to me that canned tomatoes are picked at the height of their tastiness.  Why not use diced tomatoes and make a caprese bruschetta?  I took my idea for a whirl and I have to tell you that it was pretty good.   Not mid-summer   sitting in  the backyard eating a tomato just off the vine good, but quite tasty nonetheless.  I felt warm and toasty and I almost could feel the sun beating down.  (Well, not really but it was close.)

Anyway, you should take this recipe out for a spin.  Make the tomato mixture early so the flavors have a chance to blend and then put it together just before serving.  If you serve this on Sunday, I think you'll have more to cheer for than just the Steelers.

Recipe:  You Little Tarte's Mid-Winter Caprese Bruschetta


1 14 ounce can Red Pack petite diced tomatoes, lightly drained
1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
1/3 kalamata olives, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons fruity olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 9 pieces and cut in half
1 garlic clove
1 baguette, sliced into 18 pieces

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil, olives, salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar.  Let rest in the refrigerator for an hour or two.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Rub one side of each slice of bread with the garlic clove and then brush the same side with the olive oil.  Place the slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the oven for 7 - 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Top each toast with a tablespoon or two of the tomato mixture and then place a piece of the mozzarella on top.  Put the toasts back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 1 -2 minutes, until the cheese is slightly melted.

Serve warm.


  1. Hi Nadine,
    Ina would be thrilled to share in your Caprese Bruschetta. It looks delicious!

    I plum ran out of time the other night or I would have asked your permission to include your photo for Pappa al Pomodoro in my blog post for Ina's birthday post. I was up until 3AM. I often get side tracked while researching:)

    It's funny, I usually have canned tomatoes in the pantry but I rarely, if ever, use them for anything else but tomato sauce. I must reconsider. Your idea is a good reminder and it looks fabulous!!!

    I too will return. As a matter of fact, I think I will add your lovely blog to my side-bar so I can keep track of your next delicious posts.

    Thanks for sharing, stay warm. Is the wind howling in Pittsburg. It sure is in Central PA.

  2. Bruschetta sure is popular today, or yesterday. Yours with that lovely mozzarella looks sooo good.
    The wind was crazy here too, but it looks like we're dug out and it might hit 20s tmw, hoorah.