A stroll through Montreal’s Jean-Talon Market this time of year can be a dangerous thing, especially if your hotel is several kilometres away and you walked. Best to bring a donkey or, a very big friend who owes you a very big favour.
Bustling, crowded and packed with gorgeous produce, Jean-Talon is, I think, the best of Montreal’s four major markets, especially when the harvest is just in. Piles and piles of peppers, apples, squash, you name it. And tomatoes, so many beautiful tomatoes. What a rich country.
The open air market is surrounded by butchers and fish mongers, cafés, specialty food shops and even a liquor store for a nice bottle of wine. Go early and plan to stay for lunch. Buy lunch for your friend as well. You’re going to need help later when it comes time to carry all those tomatoes.
Jean-Talon is in the heart of Montreal’s Little Italy district. So, what better way to celebrate its bounty than by making bruschetta. This hearty version is based on a recipe by Chuck Hughes of Montreal’s Garde Manger restaurant. Part salad, part BLT, this bruschetta is a meal in itself. Creamy, tangy goat cheese, fresh basil and peppery arugula are perfect with sweet, thick slices of field-ripened beefsteak tomatoes. Some excellent, thinly sliced pancetta adds even more flavour and will prevent vegetarians from muscling in on your meal.
Tomato and pancetta bruschetta with goat cheese
(Adapted from Chuck Hughes)
1 baguette, sliced lengthways
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 head garlic, unpeeled, cut in half
1 cup goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup milk
4 large beefsteak tomatoes, thickly sliced
8 thin slices pancetta
1/4 cup or so fresh basil leaves, torn roughly
1 large shallot, finely sliced
1/4 cup or so chives, minced
Several handfuls of baby arugula
2 teaspoons white Balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
Coarse salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the sliced bread and toast lightly in the oven (10 minutes or so). Rub bread with garlic.
Mix the goat cheese with a little milk to make a spread.
Place tomatoes, basil, chives and shallot in a large bowl and drizzle with white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss until well coated.
Lightly sauté the pancetta and set aside.
Toss arugula with lemon juice and a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
Spread cheese on bread. Lay pancetta over top. Add tomato slices and herbs. Top with Arugula and slice. Enjoy.