I really hope everyone remembers their first *good* Bloody Mary like I do. Prior to this revolution, I had only tasted a beverage consisting of purchased tomato "mix" swished around with cheap vodka producing a barely palatable, acidic and flavorless taste. Yet back in 2005 I had a friend who believed in this brunch time hangover cure of a cocktail and insisted on making a believer out of me. She did. The enchantment began by watching the bartender (at the now closed Cafe Montmartre in Madison, WI) muddle horseradish and fresh lemon zest with sugar and pouring in fresh tomato juice with a dash of this and a spritz of that. The final garnish consisted of a few hearty shakes of Tobasco plus the perfect garnishment of pickled asparagus, onions and olives - the spell was cast and I was hooked. She turned to me and said "it's like a salad in a glass that gives you a buzz."
The position of being the same catalyst for my token omnivore's first Bloody Mary experience was incredibly rewarding. Strolling around San Francisco, we passed a small cafe with patrons-a-plenty drinking the salty ruby on the patio. He had always shunned the idea because it was a "savory" cocktail and the idea of tomato juice sounded like something that only belonged in a nursing home. When I made a believer out of him, it was one of the most satisfying moments in our relationship. Now it's his favorite drink which is what prompted my interest in this dish.
When this recipe for Bloody Mary Tomatoes arrived through an email subscription, I obviously had to make them immediately. Not for me, but for my special someone who has come to love not only this dear combination of mildly sweet, salty and scrumptious flavors but also the idea of "bruschetta." He now even pronounces it correctly in the true, Italian phonetic fashion. Broo-SKEH-tah. So many firsts have I been able to witness for him, including a trip to Napa that involved us saving money and running to the grocery store to get the ingredients for whipping up our own bruschetta-esque. I took this recipe and ran with in the same way - plopped it on some bread smeared with a creamy spread.
I shortened up the recipe a bit to make this a readily prepared appetizer. For the aioli, I used those huge marinated white beans that you see in the olive bar at your natural grocer, but you could easily use white beans with an extra touch of olive oil. Or you could just buy some white bean hummus from Trader Joe's and call it a day. Either way, you won't be disappointed with these tomatoes for which I cannot take credit. Credit-schmedit - they are definitely worth sharing.
Bloody Mary Tomatoes
(adapted from Rachel Saunders of the Blue Chair Fruit Company)
Makes 4-6 servings
Cook time: 40 minutes
For the tomatoes
1 T. horseradish
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 T. finely granulated sugar
8 Roma tomatoes, quartered
2 tsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
For the Aioli
1/3 c. marinated butter beans (or 1/3 c. canned white beans + 1/2 T. olive oil)
2 T. reduced fat Veganaise (or yogurt)
1 T. capers (optional)
4-6 Kalamata olives, chopped (optional)
For the bruschetta
1 medium baguette or sourdough loaf
Preheat oven to 400*F and grease a baking sheet with cooking spray (I highly recommend using aluminum foil over the pan to prevent a mess).
In a medium bowl rub the horseradish, lemon zest, celery salt and cayenne into the sugar with your fingers. Add the tomatoes and Worcestershire. Toss to coat tomatoes in mixture and season with salt and pepper.
Place tomatoes flesh side up on the baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat when done and set aside. Keep oven heated to toast bread.
To prepare the aioli: Mash the beans in a small bowl. Add the Veganaise and whip until blended. Stir on the capers and olives, if using. Set aside.
To prepare the bruschetta: Slice the baguette or bread into 1/4 inch thick slices. Coat each side with cooking spray and toast in oven to 7-8 minutes or until golden brown. When done, spread each slice with aioli and top with one tomato quarter. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
Cheers to Bloody Tomatoes and a messy kitchen.