John Ash’s Crostini with Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Sometimes it’s the simple recipes that pack lots of flavor. John Ash’s crostini with oven-dried tomatoes fall into that category. We made the dish over the weekend. The crostini — topped with the oven-dried tomatoes, chopped olives, garlic paste and fresh herbs — flew off the plate … though we did manage to squeeze a few photos in beforehand.

The concentrated flavor of the oven-dried tomatoes paired beautifully with the brininess of the olives. John, a noted California chef and culinary instructor, says oven-drying is a great way to vastly improve the “pretty awful” tomatoes you often find in the supermarket.

“It’s a very simple technique and I will usually do three to five pounds at a time and then store them in the refrigerator for use in salads, with pasta, rice or just about anything that tomatoes are called for,” says John.

The tomatoes were a breeze to prepare. We halved some Roma tomatoes lengthwise and drizzled them and some unpeeled garlic cloves with our Everyday California EVOO. After adding some salt and freshly ground pepper we placed the tomatoes and garlic in a 275 degree oven for a few hours. The tomatoes came out beautifully, although we probably could have dried them even a tad longer.

“They idea is they become meltingly soft, almost like a marmalade,” John told us afterward. Regardless, they tasted delicious.

We had made sourdough baguettes earlier in the day, and so we brushed a few slices of one with more EVOO and grilled the bread over a moderately hot fire. John suggests putting the slices under the broiler or toasting them in a 375 degree oven.

Assembling the crostini was easy. We squeezed the roasted garlic from their skins and mashed them with a mortar and pestle. We spread that on the grilled bread, added some chopped olives, and topped each with a roasted tomato or two, chopped basil and mint, and more EVOO.

The dish makes for a great hors d’oeuvre. We enjoyed our crostini with a glass of Campari. They’d also make for a great snack or lunch dish.

Bon appétit,

Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch