Toasted Bread with Tomatoes and Basil
6 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 1/4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 slices Italian bread, about 3/4-inch thick
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (optional)
In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes, chopped garlic, oil, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper until well mixed and let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes to let the flavors mingle. You can store the mixture in the refrigerator for up to 3 hours, but after that, the tomatoes will become too soft. Toast the bread slices under a broiler until the edges are brown on both sides, but still white in the middle. Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle, rub both sides of the bread with the whole garlic cloves until the cloves are too small to hold with your fingers.
Lay the bread slices on an ovenproof serving plate and top with the tomato mixture. Sprinkle a little of the cheese on top and place it quickly under the hot broiler until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.
Excerpted from CUCINA AMORE by Nick Stellino Copyright© 1995 by Nick Stellino. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.