Pappa al pomodoro, a Tuscan bread-and-tomato porridge, sounds like kid's food, and it is -- for kids of all ages. In the past it was also very much a homey dish, a tasty summer way to use up leftover bread that no housewife would have dreamed of serving to a guest. Now it's on the menus of Florence's trendier restaurants. To serve 4 (or less, expect people to want seconds):
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
- 1 small onion, finely sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3/4 pound peeled, sliced sun ripened plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Several slices -- up to a half a loaf for this volume of tomatoes -- of day old Italian or French bread, soaked in water for 5-10 minutes and then squeezed dry -- it shouldn't be dripping -- and crumbled (you will need bread with a firm crumb that will stand up to being soaked without becoming a paste, not white bread, to make this dish)
- Broth or (more commonly) water as necessary
- A crumbled hot pepper
- Freshly chopped basil for garnishing
Sauté the onion and the garlic in the oil, and when they're lightly browned, add the tomatoes and the tomato paste. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes have fallen apart. Stir in the bread, and a little bit of water or broth if necessary; season to taste. Stir the mixture over a low flame until it thickens. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for fifteen minutes. Serve sprinkled with freshly chopped basil and good olive oil on the side. It's better made a day ahead and reheated.
The wine? A white, for example a Vernaccia di San Gimignano.