2lb ripe tomatoes (I used two HUGE beefsteak tomatoes)
1 regular size French style baguette
2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided
1/4 cup grape seed or olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 medium onion,sweet yellow or red
half bunch Italian parsley, minced VERY fine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
pinch salt or to taste
few cracks black pepper or to taste
Start by turning your broiler on. If using an electric stove like myself, move your racks to the middle, doing this step ensures your bread will toast evenly.
With a sharp, serrated knife slice on the diagonal down your baguette about 1/4 inch slices. You will get about 20-24 slices depending on size. Place these on a tray in a flat even layer and set aside. Take a small pan and add 1/4 cup grape-seed oil (you may use extra virgin olive oil also), along with 1 tablespoon of your finely minced garlic, and 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of dried basil. Put the heat on low and just let slowly heat up, DO NOT rush this. The object of this is to perfume and flavor the oil, not to cook the dried herbs. If you rush this, you will burn the basil and your bread will taste terrible.
Cut your tomatoes into cubes less than 1/4 inch in size. The easiest way to do this is to put the tomato in half, then make 1/4 slices around the tomato. Take those slices onto your board then make long slices, turn those slices then cut long slices again, this will produce cubes. You NEED a sharp knife, if you do not have a sharp knife, you will mush the tomatoes (you could also harm yourself).
Cut your onion into small pieces. The easiest way to do this is to cut the onion in half the long way then cut off the top bit. Now hold the onion vertical and slice 3 cuts into the onion SLOWLY, so you don’t cut yourself, almost all the way to the root but leave a little uncut. This makes layers, now set your onion flat on your board and cut vertical strips along the onion. Follow the natural lines, as this will help. Finally, turn the onion and cut it up and down. Your end result are small pieces of onion. If you cannot do this properly, or don’t like this method. Simply slice the onion thinly and rock your blade around your board until the pieces are small OR use a food processor to pulse the pieces small, NOT puree.
Prepare your fresh Italian parsley (not regular parsley) by washing and drying the herbs. Cut thin slices all along the leaves until you get to the roots (we will not be using the roots however save them in a freezer bag for the next time you make broth/stock, adds amazing flavor). Rock and chop in all directions until your parsley is small pieces, you don’t want large pieces stuck in your teeth. You may have to pile the herb back up to help cut it.
By this time your oil and basil mixture should be starting to sizzle or bubble. Turn off the heat and let it naturally cool down just until it stops bubbling. In the mean time, add all your tomatoes, onions, and parsley into a bowl. Add a pinch of salt, a few grinds of fresh pepper, remaining 1 tablespoon of minced garlic (see video if using pre-minced garlic from a jar) and approximately 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Stir well, making sure not to squish the tomatoes though. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking, adding more salt or vinegar if needed. However keep in mind it’s not suppose to be super salty or sour, just a subtle hint of each.
Once your oil cools down, take a spoon (obviously metal so it doesn’t melt) and spoon a SMALL amount of oil on each piece and spread it around. Repeat for all the bread slices. Once all the slices are done, scrap off any LARGE clumps of garlic and basil. If you fail to do this step they will burn in the oven, which is not tasty. You also only need to oil one side of the bread. Once all the pieces have been oiled and scraped, stick them in your oven on high broil in the middle racks for about 60 seconds. You will need to watch these very closely. The point is not to brown the bread, but to lightly toast them so they do not go soggy with the addition of the topping. Once the tops are lightly toasted or JUST starting to brown around the edges, flip them all over with a heat proof tongs and replace in oven. At this point I like to turn off the broiler as the remaining heat is enough to finish the job. Leave them in there another 30-90 seconds or until they just start to get crispy. The way you tell is to lightly scrape your tongs or a fork against the top, if you hear a dry sound, they are done. Remove from oven.
RIGHT before serving (do not do this ahead of time) spoon on a couple tablespoons of your tomato mixture (be sure to stir first). Try not to get a lot of juice on the bread. Enjoy! A red wine goes great with this dish or these are great served before pasta dishes. To be honest with you, I just ate a ton of these by themselves for dinner and I was happy! ^.^
For a gluten free version, make sure to use a gluten free baguette or bread. For bread slices, cut them into triangles for a neat design. Toast as mentioned above and be careful you use gluten free vinegar. This recipe is naturally vegan friendly (always check bread ingredients though as some companies use milk).
For nutritional information, its for non-gluten free with 20 servings.