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Crostini With Fontina and Tomato Marmalade From 'The Glorious Vegetables of Italy'

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This tomato marmalade balances the natural sweetness of fresh tomatoes, savoriness of warm spices, and (this is key) tart bitterness of lemon zest. Pictured with crostini with fresh fava bean purée, on the left. [Photograph: Sang An]

I've noticed a recent trend in cookbooks to hide a recipe for tomato-based jam, conserve, marmalade, or chutney somewhere in the pages. The tomato preserve will usually show up in a sandwich recipe, or else on a burger or cracker. Most of them taste okay, but they're often too sweet or too savory for more general use. The tomato marmalade in Domenica Marchetti's The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, seen here on a crostini with melted fontina, is by far the best I've made this year. It holds in perfect balance the natural sweetness of fresh tomatoes, savoriness of warm spices, and (this is key) tart bitterness of lemon zest. Marchetti includes whole swaths of peel in the preserve, enough that each bite will likely get a refreshing zing.

The assembled crostini are good, too. Gently funky fontina melts effortlessly on top of the jam to create an appetizer akin to a grown-up version of one of my all-time favorite snacks, bread pizza.

Why I picked this recipe: One more tomato preserve recipe? Why not?

What worked: The pairing of the sweetly savory marmalade with melty fontina was a grand idea. And once the marmalade is made, this is an appetizer that comes together in less than 5 minutes.

What didn't: I gave the baguette slices a quick toast (just enough to firm up the bread) before spreading on the marmalade to keep it crisp.

Suggested tweaks: These crostini would also be good with a melted mild swiss, or served room temperature with a few slivers of aged goat cheese on top. If you don't want to process the jars of tomato marmalade, you can cut the recipe in half and keep it in the refrigerator. The smaller batch takes around 1 hour to cook down.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Glorious Vegetables of Italy to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and Berkeleyside NOSH, and she blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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