This Italian Roasted Tomato Crostini is light but packed with so much flavor! Caramelized tomatoes with fresh basil, herbed cheese spread and fresh basil make this the perfect appetizer!
So, let’s talk guys. When you go grocery shopping and you’re presented with 14 different manufacturers of the same thing (let’s say canned tomatoes), what makes you put one can in your cart versus the others? Is it cost? Maybe one is one sale; I get it. Is it trial and error and you’ve settled on a brand that you love? Or perhaps you’re a creature of habit – meaning you grew up on X brand and that’s all that Mom bought so that’s all you buy now. For me it’s a combination of things. Being both an engineer and chef, I have a pretty high set of standards when it comes to the quality of what I buy.
When it comes to canned tomatoes, I want that garden-fresh taste each and every single time I open up that can. I want that vine-ripened tomato product that tastes like it was just picked in the garden. I expect this from my canned tomatoes. I expect repeatable quality each and every time. This, truthfully, is why I’ve been teaming up with the great folks at Redpack Tomatoes for the past year.
As I said earlier there’s a combination of reasons why I buy a specific brand; in this case Redpack Tomatoes. Repeatable quality is number. I mean just LOOK at those GORGEOUS bright red tomatoes below. No, there was no editing to ‘enhance’ those tomatoes. I drained them and put them in the bowl. They are absolutely GORGEOUS! Don’t believe me? Do yourself a favor and compare! Wait, let me do it for you! I’ll do a comparison of Redpack Tomatoes and another leading brand. The pictures don’t lie.
I believe in fully testing out products before I decide to partner up with them. However perhaps you don’t have the time (or money) to test out the various products. I decided to show you an actual Redpack (or Red Gold) Challenge in action. Below you’ll see the following:
- 1 28oz Can of Redpack Whole Peeled Plum Tomatoes in Puree
- 1 28oz Can of Hunt’s Whole Peeled Plum Tomatoes
- 2 plain white Styrofoam trays
- *not pictured – knife to cut the tomatoes
Step 1 – I opened up both cans of tomatoes and poured each into their own respective tray. For this challenge, Redpack is always on the LEFT and Hunt’s is on the RIGHT.
As you can see the difference is night and day between the two brands. The Redpack on the left are WHOLE, deep rich red tomatoes in a puree sauce. There are NO PEELS and NO BLEMISHES. Sadly, the same can’t be said about Hunt’s on the right. As you can see, while there are some whole tomatoes in the pan, the majority are mushy, with peels still intact, and stems on several of them.
Step 2 – Taste. Just 2 simple teaspoons dipped into the puree liquid. Redpack had that rich tomato taste and was much thicker than Hunt’s. Hunt’s was more waterier and had an almost “processed” taste.
Step 3 – Compare the tomatoes.
I drained out the liquid and to do a true side by side comparison. Visually the Hunt’s brand look like it was beaten up badly before it was put in the can. How you see them in the pan on the right is EXACTLY how they came out of the can. I’ll be honest guys, it was an eye-opener to say the least.
Step 4 – Texture
With the liquid gone, I wanted to see if the tomatoes had integrity. Visually the Redpack tomatoes were firm all the way around. They had uniformity in shape and feel. And definitely they were NOT mushy! However, when I went to Hunt’s… guys it was bad. I actually was pretty grossed out by it textually. They were ‘squishy’ and just fell apart when I tried to pick one up. They were so mushy that they just fell to pieces when I tried to grab one.
Step 5 – Cutting into one
For this recipe, it requires you to cut your tomato in half so you could have 2 perfect halves to roast. Easily my knife made a clean cut into the Redpack tomato. I was with a vine-ripened red center with flesh still intact and structurally sound. Again, Hunt’s failed miserably on this. It was like trying to cut pudding with a knife – it just didn’t work. They, just like when I tried to pick one up, just fell apart. I even tried to cut a few of them just to give them the benefit of the doubt but they all failed.
Seriously? Without a doubt, Redpack Tomatoes !!! I was honestly shocked but the subpar quality of Hunt’s.
Redpack’s Tomatoes won by a landslide in every category!
- Bright Red tomatoes – Redpack Tomatoes
- Uniformly sized tomatoes – Redpack Tomatoes
- Tomato Integrity – without a doubt – Redpack Tomatoes
- Presence of Peels or blemishes – Redpack Tomatoes because there were ZERO present!
- Liquid from the can – Redpack Tomatoes it was thicker, had more puree and a deeper color/consistency
- Taste – by a landslide Redpack Tomatoes These tasted like garden fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes!
As you can see from the results above, I was ONLY using Redpack in this recipe and in ALL of my tomato dishes! Repeatable quality guys – Redpack has it!
The second reason why I absolutely love this brand is their practices. They are a brand with a conscience. Sustainability is the latest buzzword but for Redpack it’s not a practice and certainly not a buzzword; it’s their Business Model! They are that brand that focuses intensely on producing the best tomatoes in the most sustainable and environmentally conscious way. To put it bluntly; it’s simply the right thing to do. From the way their family farmers care for the lands to how they recycle and reuse as much scrap material as they can, they want to leave the land and family business in an even better shape for future generations.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Repeat
Recycling is a way of all of our lives now. We have our separate bins and all do our part to help care for the environment. Redpack takes it even further. They don’t just recycle cans; they recycle EVERYTHING! Yes, even right down to the parts of the tomatoes that they don’t use. The discarded tomato peels and seeds are turned into animal feed, and some are even used as fertilizer to grow a whole new set of crops.
When it comes to canned tomatoes and even fresh tomatoes in any application; i.e. Sunday gravy, marinara or even using on crostini, the trick help concentrate their flavor is to cook them for a bit of time. Now Sunday gravy or marinara (yes there is a difference as I found that out quickly when I married into an Italian family) you cook for a fair bit of time to help concentrate the flavor. Roasting them does the same thing but for me, it gives them another depth of flavor. By roasting them you’re not only helping to concentrate the flavor by drawing out the excess moisture but you’re also driving up the sweetness in an almost caramelized flavor profile. When Redpack asked me to create another family type recipe I knew I wanted to go with one that involved roasting the tomatoes.
Get the family involved!
This recipe is one that is not only super easy but one that everyone, even the little ones, can help out with. Mom, Dad or the older kids can be in charge of cutting the tomatoes in half and slicing the bread. The little ones will have the most fun sprinkling on the seasonings over top of the tomatoes and also “painting” the bread with the olive oil.
When you’re ready to serve give each person another job – one person can spread on the cheese spread, another can add the basil, the tomatoes, etc. and the little ones can sprinkle on the pine nuts. I mean all kids love adding sprinkles to cookies, right? Think of the pine nuts as the ‘sprinkles’!
While this may seem like a summer type recipe, and it very well could be, the beauty of using Redpack tomatoes is that you don’t have to wait for summer to get that vine-ripe fresh tomato taste! This recipe is the perfect dish to make up for game night with the family or when you are entertaining. All of the items can be made in advance and assembled right before serving. The crostini can be hot or room temperature. Just be fair warned as you’ll want to at least double this recipe as it will go FAST!
As I was roasting the tomatoes, Mr. Fantabulous came into the kitchen sniffing away. *FYI roasted tomatoes smell like a kitchen in Italy! Of course, it was around lunch time and he was rooting around for something to eat; i.e., what was I making to eat. As I’ve told you guys a million times before, he has this built-in sonar that alerts him to head to the kitchen right when I’m ready to take something out of the oven. This time being no exception. I took the roasted tomatoes out of the oven and, as I was putting them into the bowl, he was pretty much under my feet watching so intensely. I just smiled, leaned over to kiss his cheek and told him I’d make him one.
He’s past the point of asking what it is I’m making and just accepts that he’s getting something delicious. I had 2 different spreads to slather on – one was the store-bought herbed cheese spread and the other was an Italian herbed ricotta spread (see the notes below). I made that one for 2 reasons – he hates the store-bought stuff and second, I know he would want the ricotta instead. So, I made 2 crostinis – one with the store-bought one and one with my homemade spread. I quickly assembled ours and sat next to him to have a quick bite before I finished the shoot. He took his first bite and, I swear, within 3 seconds, took 2 more bites to finish the rest of his. As he was looking for more, he started to comment on the dish. “Wow honey, that was really good! Are those canned tomatoes? It’s really light and would be awesome Friday night when we have pizza. It can be our appetizer! Can I have another or do I have to wait for you do your shoot? I mean I guess I’m ok with eating cold food.”
No guilt trip there, right? LOL So I made him another and well, me another too. I’m embarrassed to admit this but we ended up eating more than half of these. We ate so many that I didn’t have enough to do a proper shoot.
Was I upset? Heck no! These were/are AMAZING! Plus, they are so easy! Fortunately, since I have a whole pantry pretty much stocked with Redpack all I had to do was grab another can out of the pantry.
But back to my reasons as to why I love Redpack so much. The final reason why I absolutely love this brand is well, because Mom did. Granted I did test out a ton of other products throughout my years but Mom was 100% correct in her choice. They truly are THE BEST! As I mentioned in my Texas-Style Beef & Beer Chili recipe featuring their Diced Tomatoes, “…her chili must always, ALWAYS contain Redpack Tomatoes! Mom was a true canned tomato snob. She wanted, no, demanded the best products for her recipes. And Mom was right, Redpack Tomatoes are the best!”
This post is being sponsored by Redpack Tomatoes featuring their Whole Peeled Plum Tomatoes in puree. All opinions of these ABSOLUTELY AMAZING tomatoes are mine. Thank you for supporting the brands that I love!Print
- 1 28 ounce can Redpack Whole Peeled Plum Tomatoes in Puree, drained *save the liquid for a future dish
- 1 12-14” longloaf of crusty Italian or French bread, sliced into 1/2” slices
- 3-5 Tbl Extra Virgin Olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/2-3/4 Garlic herb cheese spread (*see note for using whole milk ricotta)
- Fresh basil leaves
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment; set aside. In a small bowl whisk together the salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, and basil.
- Cut each Redpack Whole Peeled Plum tomato in half. Place cut-side up on one of the baking sheets. Drizzle 2 Tbl olive oil over top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle the herb seasoning over top each tomato. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 35-45 minutes or until the tomatoes have started to shrink and caramelize around the edges. Their color will turn a deeper red, almost scarlet color. Remove from the oven, place the tomatoes and juices in a serving bowl. Turn the temperature up to 400F.
- Slice the bread on an angle to get elongated slices. Brush one side lightly with olive oil and place on the other baking sheet. Bake the bread for 6-8 minutes or until the tops start to toast lightly. Remove from the oven, brush the other side with the remaining oil and bake for another 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven when done.
- To assemble, slather 1-2 Tbl of the garlic herb cheese spread on the crostini. Top with a few fresh basil leaves, 1-2 roasted tomatoes, a few toasted pine nuts and, if desired a drizzle of the roasted tomato liquid.
- Can be served hot or room temperature.
To make your own Herbed Ricotta Cheese Spread:
- 3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
- 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves of roasted garlic
- 1/2 tsp EACH dried oregano, dried basil, kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 tsp olive oil
- In a bowl add the ricotta, olive oil, roasted garlic, and Parmesan cheese and whip on medium with an electric mixer til creamy. Stir in the rest ingredients. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
Keywords: crostini, roasted tomatoes, whole tomatoes, canned tomatoes, italian toast, tomato toast