For weeks now, my boyfriend and I have been obsessed with the “Baguette Lady,” or, the woman who sells real, French-style baguettes at Red Stick Farmer’s Market that are so lovely and perfect you can even pick them up by the “lip”–that crusty texture created by the cutting of bread dough with a lamé. She’s studied at the French Culinary Institute, eaten her weight in multi-grain baguettes in Paris (her wording, not mine), and now bakes bread in a professional-grade oven manufactured for the cooking of artisan loaves, brioches, and like bakery goods at “Forte Grove” in Plaquemine, Louisiana.
To think we have this woman at our disposal in Baton Rouge boggles my mind. Paris has been a life-long goal of mine (romanticized a little too much here and here) and with the ongoing presence of these artisan loaves at my Saturday market, I feel as if it’s just a little bit closer, actualized, or possible. Sure, it’s just bread. But it’s real French bread. In Baton Rouge. Think about that for a minute.
Having recently stumbled across David Lebovitz’s elegant and simple post for Oven-Roasted Tomatoes (here) in which he coaxes out the flavor of under-ripe tomatoes with a simple oven roast, I thought Kathleen Cooper’s multi-grain baguette deserved some natural seasonal attention with ripe Heirloom Tomatoes.
Heirloom Tomatoes have been available for two weeks at Red Stick Market, and I found them to be the perfect tomato variety for the task of oven-roasting. With their peculiar deep ridges, heirloom tomatoes have a natural line on which to cut disc-shaped slices. Roasted and plated on Forte Grove’s multi-grain baguette represents the perfect way to bring a little bit of Paris into any summer kitchen.
For tonight and for tomorrow, I will be repeating this recipe on end. The flavor of the artisan loaf and the sweet roasted tomatoes tastes so good it needs little other than a dip in good quality olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil. Any of my readers can make this dish just about anywhere, but if you have the unique advantage of finding yourself in Baton Rouge this Saturday, visit Forte Grove’s booth inside Main Street’s marketplace and pickup a $3 loaf and $5 of tomatoes. But, prepare yourself to be just a little bit obsessed.
Preheat oven to 350F. Wash tomatoes, basil, and pat dry. Roughly chop basil and reserve for garnishing appetizer. Using a sharp knife, cut along the natural lines of the heirloom tomato to create disc-shaped pieces. Transfer to roasting pan lined with a silpat and repeat with all tomatoes.
Dress tomatoes with olive oil (to taste) and salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 10 minutes or until tomato has reduced and rendered its juices. Skins should be wrinkly, but not burnt.
Meanwhile, using a bread knife, cut baguette on a diagonal to create as much surface area as possible.
Dress baguette in tomatoes and plate. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarsely chopped basil. Serve and enjoy.