Bruschetta al Pomodoro

June 14th, 2011
Bruschetta al Pomodoro

Aside from a mixed plate of salumi and bread, there is no more fundamental antipasto that the classic bruschetta al pomodoro. This simple mixture of tomatoes, garlic, salt and olive oil exemplifies the foundation of italian cooking: quality ingredients, simply prepared to show off their best flavor. It is axiomatic that you must use the best tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and bread available.

Thanks to the the Slow Food and Locavore movements,  it’s possible to either grow or find truly excellent varieties of tomatoes, each with its own special color and flavor. A preparation like this is a wonderful way to tour the flavors of heirloom varieties. Just be sure to never refrigerate a tomato! The cold destroys both flavor and texture, resulting in grainy, flavorless vegetable.

In order to support the topping the best choice for bread will be something artisianal with a firm crumb.

Bruschetta al Pomodoro

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium tomatoes – standard “on the vine” varieties work well, so long as they’re in season!
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (large cloves are easier to work with)
  • 2 tsp of olive oil
  • 1 large leaf of fresh basil, fresh oregano (optional)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 slices of hearty bread, lightly toasted

Directions

Chop the tomatoes into at least a 1/4″ dice and put in a non-reactive bowl. Mince the basil and/or oregano and add to the tomatoes along with the olive oil.

Add a pinch or two of sea salt, stir to combine, and let the mixture stand for 5-10 minutes while you slice and toast your bread. This time gives the salt a chance to draw out the juices from the tomatoes, which mix with the oil to form an incredible elixir.

Once the bread has toasted and cooled slightly, rub each slice with the garlic clove. The hard bread acts a bit like a cheese grater and the heat breaks down the harshness of the garlic.

Spoon the topping onto the bread and serve as an appetizer or part of a light lunch.

Different families, trattorias, towns and regions have minor variations of ingredients and preparations. The tomatoes may be coarsely or finely chopped, some call for basil or oregano while others stick with the fundamentals. American recipes sometimes call for balsamic vinegar, but this is an attempt to fix flavorless tomatoes. If tomatoes are not in season or you can’t get good ones, the correct solution is to make something else!

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