This started out as a pan con tomate and then spiraled out of control. I anxiously set out a plate of this glorified toast at a summer party and was pleasantly surprised to see every piece gone within minutes. This is one of those recipes that doesn't really have notes on timing. You have to use your senses and pay attention to what everything is doing. It also comes together very quickly and much can be cooked in parallel depending on how large your grill is. Like most summer recipes, you will want to seek out the very best ingredients because there's no room to cover up bad ones. For that reason, this dish happily takes the place of two or three sides in my opinion. Yields 8+ servings, depending on the quantity of bread.
- Good quality crusty bread (sourdough, farmhouse)
- 3+ tablespoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 - 6 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ pound great quality tomatoes
- 1 small red onion or 1 medium shallot
- 1 bunch hearty greens such as broccoli rabe, kale, or swiss chard
- 1 shallot
- ⅓ cup extra virgin or regular olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Sturdy cheese such as bread cheese or halloumi
- A grill
- A grilling basket, optional but handy
- Long-handled grilling tongs and a spatula
Prepare your mise en place:
- Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for two-zone grilling. If using, preheat the basket on the hot side of the grill.
- Cut the bread into your desired shape. For baguettes, ½-inch thick slices are good. For boules, try slicing into rounds, then in half in the shortest direction. You want something that can be eaten in a few bites. Brush the olive oil onto both sides of the bread and stack on a sheet tray for easy transport. Peel the garlic cloves without smashing them.
- Set a box grater with large holes in a bowl. Horizontally halve the tomatoes and then grate. Grate about a third of a small red onion or a whole medium shallot, about two tablespoons worth. Season with salt and taste; adjust seasoning as desired.
- Stem the leaves from the greens into a large bowl. Halve then slice the shallot into half moons, not too thin. Add the olive oil and toss well with your hands. Add the salt and red pepper flakes and massage into the greens. You want them to darken in color and become shiny and somewhat wilted. Set aside along with a clean plate.
- Oil both sides of the grilling cheese
- Begin by placing the grilling cheese in the middle of the cool side of the grill. Check it from time to time to keep it from burning on the outside before it's heated through to the middle. If it gets away from you, move it farther away from the hot side of the grill. At some point, flip once so it's evenly and deeply browned on both sides.
- Into the grill basket, place enough greens to fill the basket without overflowing. Grill on the hot side until tender and crispy. Frequently pick up and toss the greens so it doesn't burn. Set aside on a plate when done.
- Meanwhile, grill the bread. You want it toasty on the outside but still soft in the middle, so use the hot side and watch it carefully. Once all the bread is grilled, rub a garlic clove into it. Don't forget to eventually flip and remove the cheese!
- To assemble, start with the bread. Add a spoonful of the tomato, then some greens, then top with cheese. Drizzle over a little olive oil and a pinch of salt. Enjoy hot.