Each summer, I like to make a small picnic table-top garden. We had bigger dreams once and tried our hand at an in-ground garden, but everything either got snatched up by some form of wildlife or another, or else we just couldn't grow it. Granted, we didn't do much research and may have slacked on our watering here and there, but ever since, i'm all about the potted garden.
I love growing herbs - it's so handy having them around, and so much more cost effective than buying small containers of fresh herbs at the store. I also love tomatoes - there just isn't store bought tomato that holds a candle to the homegrown version.
Last weekend we had two small tomatoes ripe for the picking. As a tradition, I always eat the first ones on a sandwich with mozzarella and pesto. It's a classic combination that i'll never tire of. This year, rather than making pesto for my first sandwiches, I whipped up a garlicky olive oil using my fresh basil and oregano plants. The results had a similar flavor impact at pesto, but the oil requires much fewer ingredients (and no food processor!). This is simple, fresh summer food at its best.
Because my tomatoes were quite small, I decided to make sliders rather than my usual baguette sandwich, though that would work well too. I sliced the sliders in half and they would make the perfect appetizer for a party - especially because they're great warm, or at room temperature.
Ingredients (Makes 8 sliders/16 bites):
*8 ciabatta rolls (I buy the frozen ones)
*8 slices fresh mozzarella
*4 small, vine-ripened tomatoes, thinly sliced
*1/2 c. olive oil
*2 small garlic cloves, minced
*1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
*1 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
If using frozen ciabatta rolls, prepare according to package directions (if using fresh, preheat the oven to 400). Remove from the oven and slice each roll in half crosswise.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the fresh herbs and stir. Remove from the heat, set aside.
To assemble the sliders, spoon oil mixture on both sides of the ciabatta . Top one side with a slice of mozzarella and two slices of tomato. Season with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 for 5-6 minutes, or until the cheese just starts to melt. Slice the sliders diagonally before serving. Enjoy!