This is the time of year when it gets to be too hot. Time seems to slow down and every motion you make is planned. Planned to exert as little effort as possible.
But with the heat, summer also brings big beautiful tomatoes. When my apartment already feels like an oven and I can’t imagine standing over the actual stove, I turn an appetizer into a lunch.
Remember, that is pronounced brus-ket-tah. “CH” in Italian makes a hard sound, close to “KE” in English.
Bruschetta is essentially toasted bread, and you can find variations and toppings throughout Italy. Perhaps you prefer lardo (cured pork fat), peperoni (bell pepper), crema di olive (olive tapenade)? But my favorites is good old pomodoro e basilico (tomato and basil), while Jimmy goes for aglio e olio.
You’ll need one ripe tomato per person, as well as some basil.
At home in Rome, I rarely buy basil. If I have managed to kill the basil I grow at home (entirely possible and honesty quite likely), I simply ask for bit at the market. When shopping for fresh produce in Italy, ask the stall owner for a bit of whatever herb you need, and as long as they have some left, they will throw it in on top of your order.
Garlic and good quality olive oil are also essential.
For all my ingredients, I prefer to go to Mercato di Capagna Amica del Circo Massimo, a farmer’s market near Circo Massimo that is held on Saturdays and Sundays from about 9 am to 4 pm. Be careful of the summer hours– in July the market is only open on Saturdays, and is closed for all of August.
Buschetta pomodoro e basilico
Serves 4 as an appetizer, though I make it into two larger servings as the basis of lunch on a hot day
4 ripe tomatoes
1 small bunch of basil, or about 15 leaves, torn
1 clove of garlic, peeled but whole
4 slices of good quality, thick crust bread
1 generous pinch of sea salt
De-seed and chop tomatoes. Add to a bowl and tear basil leaves on top. Sprinkle with sea salt and add a gulg of high quality olive oil. Allow to sit at room temperature while you prepare the bread.
Cut bread into thickish (1 cm) slices. Place under the broiler and lightly char. Broiler use is less than ideal for hot weather, so even better if you can throw them on the grill outside. Once toasted, rub the bread with the peeled whole clove of garlic, and then drizzle with olive oil.
For bruschetta aglio e olio, stop here.
For bruschetta pomodoro e basilico, simply top the garlic-rubbed oiled bread with your tomato mixture and enjoy.