Tomatoes were viewed with suspicion in Europe when they were introduced. It took a while for people to understand the affinity between tomatoes, bread, oil and salt. Here are a few recipes with those ingredients that have sustained and satisfied generations.
"Here are a few recipes that require little effort, that will help you work through the glut of just picked, perfectly ripe, hot from the sun tomatoes sitting on your sill."
SCIACCIATA / FOCCACIA with Cherry Tomatoes
Foccacia is called sciacciata in Tuscany. The word means “pressed down”. You press down on the dough with your fingertips to make dimples for the oil to pool in. You need excellent oil and salt. Follow the recipe but scatter halved cherry tomatoes over the dough before sprinkling the salt. You could sub out oregano for the rosemary. We learned this recipe from Badia a Coltibuono.
Italians never, ever let bread go to waste. This is a favorite chopped salad in Tuscany and Umbria made at the height of summer. Day old bread, tomatoes, onions and excellent EVOO are the essentials. This recipe, given to us by our friends at Badia a Coltibuono, calls for red and yellow bell peppers. Some people add cucumbers. Rounding it out with the addition of celery and hard-cooked eggs would not be heretical.
PAN con TOMATE
Fresh tomato pulp blended with EVOO and sherry vinegar smeared over grilled bread that has been rubbed with garlic makes for a rustic and satisfying breakfast, lunch or bite with a glass of tinto anytime of the day.
GRILLED CAPRESE SALAD
Grilling the ingredients of a traditional Caprese; tomatoes, mozzarella and basil concentrates the flavors making them deeper, richer, less innocent and more worldly than the traditional version. Sop up the juices with a hunk of a rustic loaf. This salad would be great companion to grilled beef or lamb.
This is the essence of summer. Serve this from a pitcher in chilled glasses as refreshing drink rather than as a bowl of soup. Garnish with sprig of purple basil for dramatic effect.
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