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Late-summer tomatoes brighten an easy appetizer

Pizza dough baked with cherry tomatoes and herbs is a delicious late-summer appetizer. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Recipe: Make cherry tomato focaccia with pizza dough

Cherry tomatoes usually are the rugged survivors of the summer vegetable-growing efforts, even when the rest of the plants have given up the ghost.

If like me you still have plenty of little tomatoes, you might want to make this herby focaccia. It uses pizza dough as the base, but don’t worry, there’s no messing around with yeast here. A 1-pound bag of premade dough is easy to find these days in the deli sections of supermarkets as well as at specialty food stores. The recipe works with whole wheat dough just as well as regular wheat; I haven’t baked it with other varieties, but if you’re on a gluten-free diet, give this a try with your favorite alternative.

The type of cherry tomato doesn’t matter, although the focaccia looks great with several colors and shapes. This recipe works even with grocery store cherry tomatoes, so grab a pint basket of them if you’re out of your own — something to try in the dead of winter when our 2018 gardens are mere memories. Use chopped fresh basil or thyme to taste if you’re not a fan of rosemary.

Serve this as a party appetizer, an accompaniment to soup or salad, or alongside a plate of pasta.

Cherry tomato focaccia

Serves 8-12 as an appetizer
Adapted from a Whole Foods recipe and other sources

Ingredients :
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to grease the pan
1 pound prepared pizza dough, removed from wrapping and left out of the refrigerator at least 15 minutes to warm and soften
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a large, heavy baking pan (such as a 10-by-15-inch jelly roll pan). Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into the center of the pan. Place softened dough into the pan and, using your hands, gently flatten the dough. Flip dough over so both sides are coated with oil.

Work the oil into the dough gently and stretch the dough out as far as you can across the pan until it wants to snap back. Let the dough rest 5 or so additional minutes at room temperature, then stretch it again until it fills (or almost fills) the pan.
The main ingredients are olive oil, cherry tomatoes and pizza dough.

Press the tomato halves cut-side down into the dough. Brush the last 1 tablespoon of oil on the dough, particularly along the edges. Sprinkle with salt, rosemary and Parmesan cheese.

Bake until the top is very brown and the tomatoes collapse, 25-30 minutes. Cool bread in the pan 5 minutes, then remove and place onto a large cutting board. Cut into desired serving sizes (a pizza cutter works well.)

Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 day.


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A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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