I’ve recently purchased the cookbook Franny’s: Simple, Seasonal, Italian (2013 Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens, and Melissa Clark). This is one of few cookbooks that I’ve read cover to cover and it has easily become one of my favorite cookbooks. Franny’s is a restaurant located in Brookyn, starting out as a pizza joint and later adding rustic Italian fare. The allure of the restaurant and cookbook is that the dishes are simple with fresh quality ingredients.
The first recipe that caught my eye was Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Ricotta. Though I have roasted tomatoes and made several types of crostini, I must credit Mr. Feinberg because I did learn alternative methods to preparing both. The result was the most heavenly tasting crostini.
First off, slow roasted tomatoes taste infinitely better than quick roasted tomatoes (as I’ve previously posted here). Mr. Feinberg roasts his tomatoes for 3 ½ hours (2 hours at 250 degrees, then 1 ½ hours at 200 degrees). I simply don’t have the time for that but I’m sure they are succulent. I decided to compromise and roast the tomatoes on high heat (450 degrees) for 20 minutes and then lowered the heat to 275 degrees for 1 hour. If you still don’t have time for that, then use my quick roasting method which takes 25-30 minutes. Mr. Feinberg also gently tosses the tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. This is what I usually do when I roast vegetables but for some reason I didn’t think to do this in my last post. Lastly, Mr. Feinberg drizzles (or brushes) on the olive oil and then toasts the slices under the broiler, as opposed to grilling the slices (as I did in my Pea Crostini with Ricotta post). His method is not only easier as you don’t dirty another pan, but the toast tastes infinitely better.
For me, the most important takeaway from this cookbook is to care about the preparation and use the best and freshest ingredients you can find. The recipes in Franny’s cookbook are as straightforward as straightforward can be. For Roasted Tomatoes with Ricotta Crostini, I used these simple but truly delicious ingredients (all of which are fairly recent finds):
Terranova Bakery Pane di Casa. This bread has an excellent crust but is soft and chewy with just the right amount of salt. This is my go-to bread for toast and crostini.
Next is Arlotta Food Studio Extra Virgin Olive Oil. A good friend of mine tuned me into this oil about one month ago. The company is located in the Hamptons and I’m not sure if they have an actual storefront, but they tour several farmer’s markets in New York. I am very fortunate as Arlotta is regularly stationed at my local farmer’s market. The extra virgin olive oil is fruity and smooth – I could honestly take shots of it. I love the “plain” version but I highly recommend the basil infused and lemon infused. I can’t get enough of them.
And lastly, Maplebrook Farm Ricotta Cheese. It’s creamy but still has texture. It is fresh and contains absolutely no preservatives. I credit my husband for finding this ricotta at our local specialty grocery store and now it’s the only ricotta I use.
I’m not suggesting that you have to use these same products to make Roasted Tomatoes with Ricotta Crostini. I’d just like to point out that wherever you are, seek out what is available in your area – you never know what you will find. All of the recipes in Franny’s: Simple, Seasonal, Italian are amazingly simple and fresh. My goal is to try as many recipes as possible.
Roasted Tomatoes with Ricotta Crostini (adapted from the recipe Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Ricotta, Franny’s: Simple, Seasonal, Italian copyright 2013 Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens, and Melissa Clark).
Serves 4 to 6 people; Prep time – 10 minutes; Cook time – 1 hour 20 minutes
For the Roasted Tomatoes:
- 4 cups assorted cherry tomatoes
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- Granulated white sugar, about ½ to 1 teaspoon, optional (but recommended if tomatoes are not in season)
- Aged balsamic vinegar
For the rest of the Crostini:
- 4 to 6 slices country style bread
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Garlic clove, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1/4 cup fresh ricotta
- 4 basil leaves
- Kosher salt or flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Preparing the Roasted Tomatoes:
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise and add to a mixing bowl. Drizzle olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Gently combine all of the ingredients.
- Arrange the tomatoes, skin side down, in a single layer on a 1/4 sheet pan. Sprinkle tomatoes with sugar (if using) and drizzle on a touch of balsamic vinegar.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 450 degrees.
- Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees and roast for an additional 1 hour.
- Remove from oven and set aside until the tomatoes have completely cooled.
Preparing the rest of the Crostini:
- Drizzle olive oil (or use a pastry brush) onto one side of bread slice. Toast under the broiler, oil side up until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove the toasts from oven/toaster oven and rub the oiled side with the garlic.
- Spread on ricotta, season with salt and pepper to taste and lay 2 basil leaves on top.
- Mound the tomatoes over the basil.
- Drizzle each toast with olive oil and a dash of salt. Enjoy!