Summer Tomato Bread – October 2006

Recipe created by  Bob Lidsky

My Summer Tomato Bread is actually a “non-pizza”. The emphasis is on the amazing, natural taste of slightly baked fresh tomatoes, not bread & cheese. The success of this summer dish depends on the availability of fresh ingredients. The best bread is crusty, flat, fresh white bread such as La Brea Pain Rustique.  Almost as good is Ciabatta.

1- Slice the Bread the long way into two large flat pieces. Scoop out most of the soft center by hand, leaving two Crusts about a half inch thick. Lay the pair of Crusts soft side up on an insulated cookie sheet.

2- Coarsely chop Fresh Basil and liberally sprinkle on the pair of Crusts.

3- Lightly sprinkle Garlic Powder to taste over the Basil.

4- Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil over all.

5- Slice Aged Reggiano Parmegiano Cheese into 1/8 inch or thinner slices. Cover the entire surface of the Crust from edge to edge overlapping if necessary, which keeps the Crust from getting soggy.

6- Slice fresh, plump, ripe Tomatoes with skin & seeds into 1/2″ thick or thicker slices. Place slices in a single layer from edge to edge, shaping them as necessary. Use small pieces to fill in the space between larger pieces.

7- Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil over all. Season liberally with Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper.

8- Bake in preheated 425 degree oven until tomatoes soften a little and the edges start to brown. Cooking time varies from 25 to 40 minutes. If you use an un-insulated cookie sheet the bottom may burn, so check frequently.

9- Using a pizza cutter, cut into pieces about 3 inches square. Smaller pieces may be unwieldy as the tomatoes may slide off.

The soft center of the bread can be used for bread crumbs if you wish. Too much garlic will overwhelm the tomatoes, but garlic lovers can substitute chopped fresh garlic.  If you like it hotter, lightly sprinkle with Red Pepper Flakes.

Summer Tomato Bread may be served as an appetizer or a side dish. You can also pair it with soup or salad. It’s best served warm and within an hour of preparation. Avoid eating too many “samples” before your guests arrive as it is addictive!