I can trace my love for authentic Italian cooking to this little treat. I was a central Illinois farm boy (well, city boy, but 30,000 people surrounded by farms counted to some as farm boy), who had an opportunity to live in New York for a year. I wandered into one of those little Italian bistros that are seemingly on every block. The very patient waiter took the time to explain Bruschetta al Pomodoro to me.
Literally translated as toast with tomatoes, the toast is a very simple garlic bread... Just different than what I had tasted in the past. The waiter brought me out a "Fettunata", or a Tuscan version of toast. Fettunata historically was served in November, around harvesting season for olives. This is the traditional celebration dish for the first pressing (cold pressing) of the olives to create Cold Pressed Extra Virgin olive Oil. A Tuscan Fettunata fantasy would be served at the orchard during a lunch break from the hard work of harvesting. A small fire is set up to toast fresh slices of Italian sweet bread. A garlic clove is sliced and rubbed into the toast with a drizzle of the cold pressed oil. The crunchy/soft texture of the toast, the Earthy garlic and sweet creamy Oil combines for one of life's perfect experiences. Maybe a little guitar music in the background.... Someday.
Just this rubbing is enough to give you a wonderful garlic toast. No need for butter or garlic powder.
After the brushing and rubbing, I toast in the broiler, keeping an eye on the toast to just get the top mildly golden brown and delicious, with the edges starting to char... Only a few minutes each side... watch carefully as it moves from perfect golden toasty to black burnt quickly..
Before I start to toast, assemble my tomato topping. This can be a s simple as just tomato slices (or chunks) drizzled with more olive oil. Or if you really want a taste treat, try this recipe...
- 4 Slices freshly toasted Tuscan Fettunata (Garlic Toast)
- 3 Medium Firm Plum Tomatoes, Chopped
- 4 Cloves Garlic, Crushed and minced
- 8 Whole fresh Basil leaves, Sliced into ribbons
- 1 Tiny Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
- a couple turns of a Pepper Grinder
- 2 TBS Best quality Balsamic Vinegar
- 3 TBS Best quality Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Combine all ingredients (except the freshly toasted Fettunata) into a food processor
- Run for only a few seconds. Repeat a second at a time until you get a chunky puree
- Taste, add more salt or pepper to taste
- Spoon on the Fettunata,
- Serve room temperature and ENJOY!
In common use (restaurant speak), crostini is popping up on lots of menus lately. Crostini in it's simplest terms is simply toast, but usually toast from a small round loaf of bread (think a French Baguette).
Crostini topped... well topped anything is the new appetizer term. It just means toast with a topping.
Here are the little Antipasto options I served one day last week...
I made a Tuscan Fettunata (grilled garlic toast. I did serve it with a small bowl of olive oil and Balsamic vinegar to dip.
I served a larger than should have been Crostini with a little fresh Mozzarella Cheese and some Prosciutto Ham.
And for me, I can not get enough of my first authentic Italian love (you never forget your first), Bruschetta al Pomodoro.
A meal in itself, cue the Godfather theme and picture that Tuscan sunset after a hard days' work harvesting for the cold pressing.
Antipasto, it's not as much a course as an attitude adjustment for the meal to come.
So, Cin Cin indeed as I add Bruschetta with Tomatoes to my "52 Authentic Italian Recipes".
And if you like this dish and want to see more, be sure to take a minute and "Follow" me on Pinterest for all of the updates to come!