Tomato Crostini with Bacon and Basil

(from First Impressions by Betty Rosbottom [William Morrow, 1992])

 

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup chopped shallots

24 d-inch-thick slices French or Italian

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

bread (cut from a loaf about 2 ½” in          

1 ½ cups peeled, seeded, and coarsely    

diameter)

chopped ripe tomatoes

6 strips bacon, fried until crisp, drained

OR drained, canned Italian plum tomatoes

well, and crumbled

¼ teaspoon salt, or more to taste

4 tablespoons finely julienned fresh basil  

¼ cup chicken stock

leaves

pinch of sugar (optional)

several sprigs of basil, for garnish

 

To prepare the topping, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the shallots and sauté, stirring, 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté, stirring 1 minute more.  Add the tomatoes, salt, red pepper flakes, and chicken stock.  Mix well.  Cook, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick and chunky.  Taste, and if necessary, add more salt.  If the tomato mixture seems too acidic, add a pinch of sugar.  The tomato topping can be prepared up to a day ahead.  Cool, cover, and refrigerate.  Reheat when needed.

 

When ready to prepare the crostini, preheat the oven to 350oF.

 

Place the butter and the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the butter is melted.  Brush both sides of the bread slices with this mixture and place on a baking sheet.  Bake on the center shelf of the oven, turning once, until golden and slightly crisp, about 10-12 minutes.  The crostini can be made several hours ahead and kept loosely covered with aluminum foil at room temperature.

 

When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350oF.

 

Spread each crostini generously with the warm tomato mixture.  Sprinkle the crumbled bacon on top and place the crostini on a baking sheet.  Bake on the center oven shelf until the crostini are hot, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Remove and garnish each one with some of the julienned basil.

 

To serve, arrange the crostini on a serving plate and garnish with clusters of basil sprigs.

 

Makes 24 servings.