BY VERONICA LAVENIA
Italian Notebook is a window to Italy, live from Italy. Food recipes, practical advice on how to eat like a true Italian, destinations to discover the treasures of Italian food, and the inside scoop on selecting the best organic seasonal ingredients are all elements of Lavenia’s vibrant column. Photos by Giuseppe Giustolisi, ©Veronica Lavenia
Bruschetta was born as a “poor food” from the need of Italian farmers to use stale bread. In Neapolitan cuisine, bruschetta, was the snack of farmers who dressed these slices of toasted bread with freshly picked tomatoes. The original recipe is comprised of drizzling the bread with extra virgin olive oil and topping it with garlic, tomato and oregano. Today, many versions of the starter exist with various types of vegetables, cheeses and Italian salumi as additions to the basic recipe.
The secret for authentic Italian bruschetta is using simple, but high quality ingredients (a rule that is the staple of all Italian cuisine). Choose Italian rustic bread, with natural yeast (available in Italian food shops), which should stay fresh for 7-10 days. The olive oil for classic bruschetta — tomato, oregano and garlic — must be strictly extra virgin (in Italy, it’s also known by the abbreviation “EVO”) with intense aromatic notes, while a lighter extra virgin olive oil is preferable for Bruschetta with cheese or salumi. For this recipe, I used the fine Sicilian PDO extra virgin olive oil, PDO Monti Iblei, which possesses intense and distinctive aromas.
Tomatoes (preferably organic plum tomatoes) will add sweetness, and a fresh high quality oregano (in Italian specialty shops, try the fine Sicilian oregano), will make your bruschetta very special.
Tomato and Oregano Italian Bruschetta: Serves 4
Ingredients (choose organic, if available)
4 ripe flesh plum tomatoes
1 clove garlic (minced)
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons high quality Italian extra virgin olive oil
Oregano to taste
4 mint leaves
4 toasted slices of rustic Italian bread
Wash tomatoes and cut them in half. Chop the tomatoes coarsely and pour them into a bowl. Mix the tomatoes with the garlic (peeled and crushed), a pinch of salt, extra virgin olive oil and oregano. Let stand for 10-15 minutes to absorb the flavors of the marinade. Toast the bread and spread the tomatoes with the sauce.