This is a classic Italian recipe that’s simple to make. It comes from the city of Naples, Italy by way of a very dear friend. It is very old. You might suspect it originated in Roman times, but you’d be wrong. Tomatoes and the art of preparing them didn’t appear in Italy until the early 1500’s. They were brought back from the new world by the Spanish explorer Cortez, and his merry band of thugs who conquered the great civilizations of the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans. Their gift to the indigenous people of Central and South America? Disease, mass murder and the total annihilation of their culture.
But that’s another history lesson.
Tomatoes have been grown in the Americas for many thousands of years. So enjoy this multicultural dish with – shall we say – ulterior origins.
Don’t skimp on the quality of the tomatoes or balsamic vinegar. It is what makes this dish authentic.
2-3 ripe garden tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped into 1/4″ chunks
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and minced fine
5 fresh basil leaves, fine chopped
Drizzle of XV olive oil
Drizzle of red wine vinegar
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Salt and fresh ground coarse black pepper to taste
1 baguette Italian or French bread
XV olive oil
1/4 cup hard parmesan cheese – freshly grated
Fresh cottage cheese
Core and seed the tomatoes. Chop and place in serving bowl. Do not allow to stand in liquid. Drain if necessary. Romas have a low water content and are excellent for this purpose.
Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the remaining ingredients, mix and let stand or cover and refrigerate for one hour. (I prefer less vinegar and olive oil, allowing the flavor of the tomatoes to come through. )
Prepare a heavy cast-iron Panini pan with cooking spray and heat to medium high on your stovetop.
Cut ten slices of bread 1/2″ thick at a bias and brush one side with olive oil. Place the slices (working in batches) in the Panini pan and weight down with another heavy pan. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until one side is golden brown with toasted ridge marks on the surface. Remove and place in covered serving dish.
Have your guests serve the tomato mixture on individual bread slices. Top with the fresh grated parmesan cheese.
Serve with cottage cheese on the side.