Starting with something you have to eat with your hands is a great way to connect with your food...and to get your guests excited about the dinner to come.

This recipe produces an extra cup of oven-dried tomatoes. Store them (oil-packed, airtight) in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. You may also substitute jarred sun-dried tomatoes.
Servings: Makes 8 Servings (About 24 pieces)
for Oven-Dried Tomatoes
  • 3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes (about 14), halved lengthwise and stem ends trimmed
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • olive oil , to cover
for Bruschetta
  • 1 (9-ounce) small baguette , diagonally sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh bread crumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic , finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. Italian parsley , chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup arugula leaves , very coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup oven-dried tomatoes
1. To make tomatoes: Preheat oven to 250°. Line 2 baking sheets with wire racks. Arrange tomatoes cut side up on racks. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake 8 or 9 hours until tomatoes are shriveled and dry but not hard or crisp. Some tomatoes will dry sooner than others; check every 30 minutes during last 2 hours of baking, and remove them as they are done. Set aside to cool. Place tomatoes in an airtight container and add olive oil to cover completely.

2. To make bruschetta: Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange bread on a baking sheet. (You should have about 24 slices.) Brush both sides lightly with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake until crisp, about 6 minutes per side. Arrange slices on a serving platter.

3. Using the same baking sheet, scatter almonds and bake until fragrant and beginning to color, 8 to 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, finely chop and place in a small bowl.

4. In a small skillet set over medium heat, toast bread crumbs, stirring until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic; cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, salt, and pepper. Add to almonds and stir together until combined.

5. Pat tomatoes dry and coarsely chop. Right before serving, top bread slices with tomatoes and arugula, dividing evenly. Sprinkle on 1 teaspoon bread crumb mixture per toast. Lightly drizzle all with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.


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