Growing up, everyone, EVERYONE in my family hated, HATED tomatoes. It was a rarity that I had access to fresh, juicy and flavorful tomatoes. They were my unicorn. Most of the time, I was cleanup crew on those the unwanted, mayo-smeared, pale and mealy slices picked off of my parents' hoagies. Despite my deep hatred for mayo, I'd gladly take those limp, unwanted tomatoes, wipe them clean and pile them on my own sandwich. You gotta do what you gotta do...
Then one magical summer, my Mom got some cherry tomato seeds for me to plant in her small backyard garden. We planted them, watered them and proudly watched them blossom into a tall tomato bush. When it came time to harvest those plump little fruits, I was as happy as a kid in a candy store. I ate them straight off the vine by the handful and they tasted better than any sugar-packed candy bar ever could.
My love of all things tomato still runs deep. I'd put red sauce on just about anything. However, I no longer eat those secondhand sorry excuses for tomatoes anymore. I'd rather wait for tomato season and enjoy them when they're at their peak.
One way to preserve that peak-of-the-summer-season brightness is to slowly roast the tomatoes with garlic and herbs in a rich bath of olive oil. Gjusta in Los Angeles does just that with their Tomato Confit. You can order a simple tomato confit sandwich or have it served on their crispy, wood fired pizza at their deli-style location or their more sophisticated and stylish sister restaurant, Gjelina. Either way, it's unforgettable.
That Tomato Confit has stuck with me. When I learned that the recipe for was in the Gjelina cookbook released in 2015, I was all over it. Tomato confit is a brilliant way to pack in that bright summer flavor and preserve it into the cooler months. Using the Gjelina recipe as a base, I adapted it and dialed it in just the way I like it; with plenty of zesty basil, freshly picked oregano and just enough warm, piney, rosemary to bridge summer and fall.
My favorite way to serve my version is as a Tomato Confit & Burrata Crostini. A fresh baguette gets sliced and grilled on a cast iron grill pan, then is slathered with the rich, silky and full-flavored tomato confit, a big buttery soft dollop of burrata and a kickin' drizzle of sweet warmth from homemade chili honey.
Next time you're in LA, do yourself a favor and stop into Gjusta or Gjelina for an unforgettable meal and take home a fresh baked baguette to use as a base for your own homemade batch of Tomato Confit & Burrata Crostini.