Tomatoes, the unsung fruit! With its ubiquitous use in pasta and sauces, it’s easy to see how serving this delicious fruit as is can be overlooked, how sweet and quintessentially summer-tasting and refreshing it can be just off the vine — or your countertop. I recently made a huge batch of tomato sauce for a group dinner, pureeing and simmering nearly fifteen pounds of fresh tomatoes into an aromatic blend of the familiar Italian flavors: basil, oregano, and, of course, tomatoes.
I had a few tomatoes remaining and thought I’d chop them up and toss them on top of some bread to accompany our Italian-inspired dinner. Needless to say, it was a meal rich with vitamin C and A, flavors, and great company. There is a fantastic simplicity to Italian cuisine; an innate rustic kind of love in the fresh ingredients and care of preparation that makes the food taste that much better. The recipe speaks for itself: just a handful of ingredients, yet a mouthful of flavor.
1 loaf hearty Italian bread, like Pugliese bread
4 large tomatoes, medium-diced
3 or 4 large basil leaves, julienned
Extra virgin olive oil
1. Combine tomatoes and basil in a large bowl. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil to coat, season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix gently, set aside (do not refrigerate).
2. Slice bread into about half-inch thick slices and broil in oven until toasted, about four to five minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a few seconds.
3. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.
Such an easy recipe but so tasty! You can add garlic to the tomatoes for a nice kick in flavor or, after removing the bread from the oven while it’s still hot, rub a clove of garlic sliced in half on the bread. You can do this with any type of tomato, I used the vine-ripened variety.
I would like to note that it is not necessary to store whole, unripened tomatoes in the refrigerator, something a lot of people do! Sticking them in such a cold place will dull their delicious, summer-tomato flavor. Keeping them at room temperature is ideal; on the windowsill in direct sunlight will speed up the ripening process, otherwise, fresh, unripened tomatoes will keep for about a week kept just on the counter.