Long Reads

Summer Tomato Tartines with Garlic Confit

August 21, 2013

When she has the kitchen all to herself, Phyllis Grant of Dash and Bella cooks beautiful iterations of what solo meals were always meant to be: exactly what you want, when and where you want them.  

Today: Everything is better with garlic confit, especially open-faced tomato tartines.

Tomato Tartines from Food52

Shop the Story

Dude, please. Don’t shoot Buddha in the face with a water gun.

But mom. It’s so fun. Why not?

I don’t know. It just seems wrong. He’s just sitting there, all smiling and peaceful. Reminding me to breathe and be in the moment. 

What does in the moment mean?

It’s what I’m practicing right now.

Don’t be crazy. You’re not doing anything right now!

Well that’s the point. I’m supposed to be writing a bunch of things and my photo of butterscotch sauce is a bit soft so I should reshoot it but I’m here on our back porch in the sun with these dirty white pillows surrounded by thirsty plants watching you shoot yourself in the face with a water gun and there’s nowhere else I should be and I’m trying not to think about the immunization form that’s not filled out or the laundry or that stain on the rug or the dishes or the fact that summer is almost over and—

Okay. Okaaaaaaaaay. I get it. Being in the moment. It’s like when you’re cooking. Right? And when you’re listening to that song.

What song?

The getting lucky one.

We glide into the kitchen, gorge ourselves on tomato tartines, and listen to Daft Punk over and over again, knowing, that come September, we will be sick of them both.

How to Make Tomato Tartines with Garlic Confit

For the Garlic Confit: Break apart a head of garlic. Poke a tiny hole in each clove with a needle or paring knife to help prevent them from exploding (mine have hit the ceiling!). Place unpeeled cloves in a deep pot and cover with olive oil. Place on the back burner and don’t get your face anywhere near the pot or you might be sorry. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to the lowest simmer to prevent splattering. Simmer until cloves are cooked through (they’re done when a paring knife slides right in) -- it should take 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the cloves. Take pot off the heat and cool. You can refrigerate the garlic confit covered with the garlic oil, just use it up within about a week -- after that, throw it out. If you use up the garlic oil, just replenish by covering the cloves with olive oil.

For the Herby Cherry Tomato Salad: Halve a handful of cherry tomatoes. Toss them with a pinch of salt, pepper, a big splash of garlic confit oil, a small splash of balsamic vinegar, and all kinds of chopped herbs (parsley, mint, tarragon, sage). Taste. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Make it vibrant. Maybe add some lemon zest, pomegranate molasses, or sherry wine vinegar. Play.

More: Slice all of the cherry tomatoes, faster, with this this hack.

For the assembly: Grill or toast some bread. Remove several cloves of garlic confit from the oil, squeeze contents out of the skins, and spread all over the warm bread with a butter knife. Top with slices of heirloom tomatoes. Salt the slices (this month, I’m loving Maldon sea salt or grey salt on my tomatoes). Top with the Herby Cherry Tomato Salad. Drizzle with olive oil. Eat right away or your bread will get soggy.

Photos by Phyllis Grant

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • bluet
  • Dahlia Vandoria
    Dahlia Vandoria
  • saltyone
  • bernice chu
    bernice chu
  • kathy Diener
    kathy Diener
Phyllis Grant is an IACP finalist for Personal Essays/Memoir Writing and a three-time Saveur Food Blog Awards finalist for her blog, Dash and Bella. Her essays and recipes have been published in a dozen anthologies and cookbooks including Best Food Writing 2015 and 2016. Her work has been featured both in print and online for various outlets, including Oprah, The New York Times, Food52, Saveur, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Tasting Table and Salon. Her memoir with recipes, Everything Is Out of Control, is coming out April 2020 from Farrar Straus & Giroux. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two children.


bluet September 10, 2013
I had no problems following the basic directions, just keep an eye on it and check for doneness starting at about 15 minutes. Both the oil and garlic were delicious with everything from croutons to salad dressing to sautes.
Dahlia V. August 28, 2013
I went and tried this recipe. Great tasting. One thing is important to know: heating the olive oil until it boils is dangerous. It is so hot that when I dropped the garlic cloves into the boiling oil, they exploded and spattered boiling oil all over. I removed the oil from the heat immediately and let the oil and garlic "coast". The smaller cloves were burned bitter. A better way to cook it is to start heating the oil on medium heat and when the steam from the garlic starts bubbling the oil, reduce the heat to low simmer. Cook until tender and garlic is buttery - like roasted garlic. The garlic will not burn or become bitter.
Phyllis G. August 28, 2013
so sorry there's so much confusion with this. let me try and clarify. i agree. you should never drop the garlic into boiling oil. i always cover the cloves with room temp oil and place it on the back of the stove before bringing it up to the boil. another option is to do it low and slow in the oven. you can even put a lid on it. but i don't like that water from the lid drips down into the oil. but that's by far the safest. let me know if you try it again!
saltyone August 27, 2013
call me stupid but I still don't know what the initial heat on the olive oil with the garlic should be to reach the boil without running the risk of burning, etc? should it be a very low light a mid-level flame or high?
Phyllis G. August 28, 2013
just crank the heat high, don't walk away from it, and turn down to a simmer right when it comes to a boil.
saltyone August 27, 2013
I'm a bit confused, how high should the initial heat be for the garlic?
Phyllis G. August 27, 2013
Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to the lowest simmer to prevent splattering. Simmer until cloves are cooked through (they’re done when a paring knife slides right in) -- it should take 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the cloves. Take pot off the heat and cool. Alternatively, bring to the boil and take right off the heat. This will take longer but you will have the same results.
bernice C. August 26, 2013
Would the dish be the same if the garlic heads were roasted instead of simmering them in oil? Particularly if you're not planning to use the oil from the confit? thanks
Phyllis G. August 26, 2013
would totally work to roast the garlic. but it does take longer. and you won't get the garlic oil. and the flavor and texture is a bit different. but it's equally as wonderful.
Dahlia V. August 25, 2013
Do I understand correctly that the olive oil covering the garlic cloves is heated until the olive oil boils? That temperature is between 405 and 572 degrees F, depending upon the grade of the oil. I fear the garlic will be cooked bitter. Or do you just heat the oil until the garlic begins to vent steam into the hot oil?
Phyllis G. August 26, 2013
i never check the temp. just bring to the boil. turn to a simmer. you can even turn it off when it comes to the boil and let it coast (it will just take a bit longer). i've had beautiful results every single time. try it and let me know!
kathy D. August 25, 2013
Love how you started out this blog. Boy do I miss those days when my kids were young and free to play or say what they were thinking. Enjoy them, they fly by!
Alice C. August 28, 2013
Great blogging, my kids are why I like to cook !
tigerlillr August 25, 2013
OMG, this looks divine. Simplicity rules.
Marna August 25, 2013
OMG, OMG, OMG-----brilliant use for the 2 million cherry tomatoes in my garden. Using the 2 lids to slice the little beggars is such a simple solution for slicing little round rolling things, including olives and grapes!! We're going to do this tonight on personal size grilled flatbreads.
Naz D. August 21, 2013
Delicious and beautiful to look at. School has already started for us - I have a couple of hours to myself. This is what I want and this is what I shall cook. Without interference from the six and under crowd. Get Lucky has been playing non-stop on KCRW. Thanks Phyllis!
Phyllis G. August 21, 2013
you're welcome! back in school already? how wonderful. enjoy the peace and quiet. i love KCRW.
Americanweekends August 21, 2013
How do you keep from burning the olive oil?
Phyllis G. August 21, 2013
the heat is so low that the oil doesn't burn.
Davis B. August 21, 2013
OMG...can i come over & hang out?
Dawn R. August 21, 2013
I'm wondering which olive oil to use for the confit -- my workhouse one, mid-range or high-end? My gut instinct is mid-range, since it's being heated, but I hate when you try to skimp and end up with subpar results.
Phyllis G. August 21, 2013
yes. probably mid-range is best. and avoid any olive oil that's really bold (bitter or herbaceous) because it will overpower the lovely garlic flavor.