This is a simple summer recipe originally from the Romagna area, on the Adriatic coast. The two main ingredients are: tasty ripe tomatoes and dry breadcrumbs. I usually make my own breadcrumbs using the method that I learned from my parents (this is traditionally my father’s job). When I have some leftover bread, I cut it into thick slices and put them on a baking tray. Then, whenever I happen to bake something, as soon as I take the food out of the hot oven (which I’ve just turned it off), I put in the tray with the sliced bread on it, and leave it to dry out while the oven is cooling down. In this way I always (well, almost always) have some nice dry bread which I can then put in a food processor whenever I need some breadcrumbs. If I’ve run out of stale bread, as it happens at this time of year when I make this recipe quite a lot, I buy the breadcrumbs from the local baker.
Let’s have a look at the recipe:
Pomodori maturi, meglio se perini o San Marzano
Pangrattato, circa 2 cucchiai da dessert per pomodoro 1 ciuffo di prezzemolo 1 spicchio d’aglio Alcuni capperi (se piacciono) Olio extra vergine d’oliva Sale e pepe
Pangrattato, circa 2 cucchiai da dessert per pomodoro
1 ciuffo di prezzemolo
1 spicchio d’aglio
Alcuni capperi (se piacciono)
Olio extra vergine d’oliva
Sale e pepe
Ripe tomatoes, better if long, plum type, e.g. San Marzano
Dry breadcrumbs, about 2 dessertspoons per tomato
1 bunch of parsley
1 clove of garlic
Few capers (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Rinse and dry the tomatoes, then cut them lengthwise, remove the seeds, sprinkle the inside with salt and lay them face down on a draining board for about an hour so that they loose their water. In the meantime prepare the breadcrumbs, and put them in a mixing bowl with a little salt and pepper. Chop the parsley, garlic and capers very finely (if you are using them), and add them to the breadcrumbs together with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Mix everything thoroughly.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Put the tomatoes on a lightly oiled baking tray (or you can line the baking tray with some greaseproof paper). Stuff the tomatoes with a layer of the breadcrumb mixture, making sure not to overfill them or they become too dry. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are well cooked and the stuffing is a dark golden colour. Leave to cool down and serve them slightly warm or cold. They are nicer when made in advance, and perfect for a buffet or una cena al fresco (an outdoors evening meal).
Variations: you can use a mixture of summer vegetables, such as sweet peppers, courgettes, aubergines, and mushroom tops. Simply remove the seeds from the peppers, and cut them in three or four segments shaped like boats. If you are using courgettes, cut them in half lengthwise, and remove a little of the white flesh to make room for the stuffing. Add the minced flesh to the breadcrumb stuffing. You can also add the mushroom stalks to the stuffing if you like. If you are using aubergines, choose long, thin ones, cut them lengthwise, make a crisscross pattern in the flesh with a sharp knife, sprinkle with salt and leave them to rest for at least an hour to get rid of the bitter juice. Rinse the salted aubergines and pat them dry before stuffing them.