The most flavorful ripe tomatoes embrace the Tuscan bread into a delicious appetizer, one of the most traditional of Tuscany. A couple of ingredients can create something extraordinary and Pappa al Pomodoro is exactly it.
Bread and Tomatoes are made for each other and they perhaps are the 2 most used ingredients in Italian cuisine. Think about Bruschetta, Panzanella, or even Pizza.
One of the reasons they are so common is because Italian cuisine is mostly based on ancient peasant recipes. Since they were mostly living in poverty, they had access only to basic ingredients like flour from the local mill and vegetables from their own garden.
"Pappa al Pomodoro" literally means Tomato Mush and it is exactly this. It's made with stale bread, which could not be eaten anymore if not mushed into something else like Panzanella. And the simple touches of garlic, good olive oil, and basil, elevates this tomato mush into a great appetizer or light lunch, which will make you crave more.
It can be eaten warm, cold, or at room temperature, depending on the preferences and on the weather. It's usually served in a small bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh basil and it's served as an appetizer or as aperitivo. But sometimes I make a big batch and eat it as a main course at home. I like it that much.
Which type of bread should I use?
Traditionally, we use Tuscan bread for this recipe. Tuscan bread is sourdough bread with a crunchy crust and soft inside. The peculiarity, compared to other Italian bread, is that it doesn't contain any salt.
This makes it a great ingredient to add consistency to this kind of recipe without altering the flavor of the tomatoes.
If you love making bread, then I suggest you bake your own Tuscan bread. Enjoy it for a couple of days and when it becomes stale, you can use it for this recipe.
As an alternative, you can use any other white crusty bread, better if sourdough. Use it only when it's stale and hard, or toast it in the oven if you cannot wait.
Another fantastic recipe made using stale Tuscan bread is this Authentic Ribollita Soup made with bread and vegetables.
Which tomatoes are best for this recipe?
In Italy, the most used tomato is San Marzano. San Marzano tomatoes are part of the plum tomato family. One of the most common tomatoes you can find from the same family is the Roma tomato.
They mostly differ in shape. Roma tomatoes are round while San Marzano are thinner and pointed. They both have more flesh, fewer seeds, and are less watery, which makes them ideal for sauces.
Can I use pre-made tomato sauce?
You can, but be aware that canned tomato sauce is usually more acidic than fresh tomatoes so you may want to balance the acidity with some sugar.
In general, I suggest using fresh tomatoes as much as possible since nowadays, Roma tomatoes are available throughout the whole year. It may take a few minutes more but the final taste will be 100% worth it.
"Pappa al Pomodoro" Tuscan Bread & Tomatoes
- 5 oz Stale Sourdough Bread, sliced
- ½ lb Roma Tomatoes
- 1-2 Garlic cloves
- Fresh Basil
- EV Olive Oil
- 2 cups Water
- Black Pepper
- With a sharp knife, score a cross on the bottom of the tomatoes and bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Toss the tomatoes in the boiling water and wait 1 minutes until the skin start coming off. Drain them and toss them in ice cold water. Now you can easily peel the tomatoes.
- Peel the garlic clove and rub it well on both sides of the bread slices.
- Add the bread slices in a large pan, then add the roughly chopped tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Turn on the heat and cook for a couple of minutes, then add salt, black pepper, a few chopped basil leaves and cover everything with water.
- Let it simmer at low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the bread is completely wet and turned into mush, mixing it often with a wooden spoon to break the bread as much as possible.
- When you have a uniform mush with no more chunks of bread, turn off the heat, add more fresh basil and drizzle with good quality EV olive oil.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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