by Eric Wharton
My Recipe Book, constantly being added to
Day-old bread, month-old oil, and year-old wine.
— Old Italian Proverb
Italian toast is a south Philadelphia PA favorite, more commonly known as brushetta. It’s history dates back to the Etruscan age in the land between Rome and Tuscany. Salt-less bread (a day old and a little bit stale) was sliced and baked in ovens. Before placing it in the oven, each slice was traditionally brushed with a clove of garlic and drizzled with olive oil.
Every city or region in Italy has its own toppings. In Piedmont, its covered with garlic, oil, and a slice of tomato. In Calabria, pepper and oregano is added. Parts of Tuscany serve Bruschetta with cuts of meat like prosciutto or sausage. Lard may be added that melts into the warm toasted bread. During the grape season, grapes may be added. Shaved truffles are used in Alba, but just about anything can be added: zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, bell peppers, and any kind of cheese.
1 loaf Italian or crusty French bread
2 cups finely chopped fresh tomatoes
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley flakes
1/4 tsp thyme
Mix together fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, olive oil, brown sugar, vinegar, and spices. Cook for 1 hour.
Cut bread in half and then into 5-inch lengths. Brush each slice with olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Sprinkle each slice with onion powder and garlic powder.
Toast in oven at 400 degrees for 3 minutes until golden brown. Top each slice with tomato mixture, cheese, and oregano. Broil for 2 minutes, or until cheese begins to melt.
Return to Mason-Dixon Recipes