Karen's Roasted Tomato Bruschetta w/ Bacon

Every year, for the past 10 years, the quiet little hamlet know as East Nasty/East Nashville has a tomato art festival. They have everything from a redhead contest to tomato throwing and everything in between. People even dye their small dogs red for this day. Apparently it is quite the big deal. I found out through a new blog friend, Amanda (check out her blog! She is incredibly talented!), that there was a recipe contest at Margot. I thought to myself "I should totally enter that contest!" So I did. Even though I had never, ever, attempted to make bruschetta before. Tomatoes, as it happens, are on my list of "I don't eat" foods unless they are in the form of bruschetta. For some reason the combination of tomato and sometimes onion with balsamic vinegar for me is a win. 
Not too long after I signed up we stopped at a Mennonite farm stand and picked up some lovely green and red tomatoes. Of course, as a sometimes procrastinator, and of course rather busy person I didn't start out testing recipes until far too late. And by far too late I mean the morning of. School has started to car rider lines are happening, teaching is still going on, grading papers takes time, you know how it goes.
I decided that I would roast the tomatoes because I had seen that done somewhere before. I also decided I would roast a head of garlic to use as a spread on the bread before adding the roasted tomatoes. The garlic turned out fantastic, the tomatoes did not.



The skins came off of the green tomatoes really well but I was scraping to get the red ones off. My sweet neighbor has offered her cherry tomato plants for experimentation so I sent Munchkin next door to pick extra. I ended up roasting another batch to include with the ones pictured above. You might think this was not going too bad but you know things can always get worse. I don't mean to be a pessimist but if you are in a hurry there will more than likely be a comedy of errors..at least in my kitchen.

I spread the roasted garlic on the delicious looking french bread (oh yeah, my hubster and I are currently on day 15 of Whole 30 which include no bread in a house of bread lovers) and then brushed on a little olive oil. It is pretty amazing how fast bread can go from almost toasty to blackened edges. At this point I was starting to run out of time and realized I still needed to do a balsamic reduction. I didn't have any more garlic so I started to scrape the black edges of the slightly (haha) overdone bread then I had an epiphany! I pulled out my smallest biscuit cutter and cut out the middle of each piece of bread. I only needed 5 so this I thought would work. 

After mixing everything up and having my kiddos do a taste test I was convinced I had a shot of winning something. My kiddos don't typically eat tomatoes either so for them to like what I had whipped up was encouraging. I packed the tomatoes in a Tupperware, covered the bread on a red Styrofoam plate, and put the balsamic in a sandwich bag, grabbed a pair of scissors and we were out the door. I guess because I had never been to the tomato fest and because an instagram pic posted earlier showed few people I assumed we would park next to the restaurant and go right in. However, my daughter read about the event and said that in 2012 over 35,000 attended. Which tells you why we had to park 3/4 of a mile from the restaurant and practically run to get there on time.
As soon as we walked into the cafe I knew there was zero chance that I would win the recipe contest. There was a lady grating mozzarella cheese over her perfect bruschetta, there was a man with triangles of sun dried tomato focaccia topped with a fried green tomato and an entire strip of bacon, Amanda had hers in adorable little baskets (and won honorable mention!), there was a lady with bacon, lettuce, tomato. There was no shortage of amazing, creative dishes. It was hot in the entryway to that little cafe, my kiddos were patient and waited for me to get done plating and then we were out of there. I will say I held my breath a little bit waiting for the text to come pick up my prize and a little disappointment that it did not come. Of course, everyone that entered got a goody bag with hot salsa, Georgia peaches, tomato jam, and a few more tomatoes. Overall this was a great experience for me to try to create a recipe, even if it wasn't the best one there. It also gave me a much better idea of what to expect if I decide to enter next time. The email said dips so we shall see if that is something I can start testing now instead of the day of.


After dropping off at Margot we were able to roam around just a little bit and take in some of the festival. If you can think of a tomato themed object I am sure it is there. I am trying to find the name of this artist that did this cool tomato sculpture and will post it as soon as I know. We have had a very mild summer but you would not know it that day. The humidity was so high you could swim in it and the temp was in the 90's. I bought the kids a frozen lemonade to share, we made our way through the throngs of people and hoofed it back to the car. Salient was playing at a park in Mount Juliet for Bands 4 Bishop and we needed to get there. Then nice thing about parking so far away is that we were able to jump on the freeway without a problem. :)

Anyway, if you think you would like to try out my recipe, here it is!



Karen’s Roasted Tomato Bruschetta


  Ingredients:
o   Tomatoes
o   Garlic
o   Fresh Basil
o   Olive Oil
o   Balsamic Vinegar
o   Salt
o   Pepper
o   Sugar
o   bacon


·         Roast 1 head of garlic:
o    Slice off the top
o    drizzle with olive oil
o   place in a muffin pan and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees
·         Roast tomatoes ( I used green and red from a Mennonite farm stand and a few cherry tomatoes from the backyard)
o   Slice in half, remove seeds, sprinkle with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and sugar
o   bake for 20 -30 minutes or until they start to wrinkle
·         Bake bacon in cold oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees
·         Slice up tomatoes and mix with 1TBSP olive oil, fresh basil, and 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
·         Mix in Pearl Mozzarella and cooled crumbled bacon
·         Top slices of French bread with roasted garlic, sprinkle with olive oil and bake until toasty
·         Top with Bruschetta and more fresh basil

·         Enjoy!

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