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Let’s get messy

Name a food with a worse user experience than bruschetta. I’ll wait.

What bruschetta lacks in eating ease, it makes up for in flavour. Especially in this week’s recipe for bull’s heart tomato, anchovy and basil bruschetta.

Crunchy. Salty. Aromatic. Simply delish.

This week’s album: 
Still Grazing by Hugh Masekela

Known as the father of South African jazz, this album is the soundtrack to Masekela’s autobiography. It’s a compilation of some of his recordings from 1966-74, including the US #1 hit ‘Grazing in the Grass’. It’s a great mix of jazz and Afropop that’s perfect for sunny-garden-afternoon listening.

One of my favourite ingredients

When in season, and eaten at their best, the humble tomato is a thing of beauty, requiring very little intervention. One of the simplest, and most enjoyable, ways to eat them as the season starts is on bruschetta.

The tomatoes I used (and strongly suggest you use) are bull’s heart ones.

I found varieties from Campania in the South (known as ‘cuore del Vesuvio’), and from Liguria in the North West. Both locations have ideal growing conditions for tomatoes. The soils surrounding Vesuvius are particularly fertile, while parts of Liguria have a unique microclimate that provides stable temperatures all year round.

As these tomatoes are grown outside, never seeing a greenhouse, they’re more exposed to the sun which means they have a high level of natural scarring i.e. don’t be put off when shopping for them.

Bull’s heart tomatoes are particularly pleasant, and perfect for this recipe, as they have a great ratio of flesh to seeds and a particularly thin skin. The vast majority of the fruit is meaty flesh with a low water content resulting in a gloriously concentrated flavour.

This recipe will show you how to get the best out of the tomato. We’ll maximise its flavour with the addition of salt, acidity and a little time spent marrying the tomatoes with aromatics.

I’ve also added some anchovies, mainly because I love them but also because the two ingredients work so well together. However, if you’re not an ancho fan then feel free to leave them out.

What you need

The below serves 4. It takes 15 mins to prep (plus marinating time of 1-6 hrs) and 2 mins to cook.

1 garlic clove
15g basil
2 bull’s heart tomatoes
2 tbsps white balsamic vinegar
2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil (best quality)
Sea salt & black pepper
1 ciabatta
¼ tsp dried oregano
8 anchovies (best quality & drained from the oil)

Ready, steady, cook

1. Cut the garlic clove in half and spread onto a baking tray so that some of its juices are released. Leave the two pieces on the tray. Bruise the basil (basically gently squish it) and scatter over the tray.

2. Cut the tomatoes in half, then cut each half into slices roughly 1cm thick (removing any of the core as necessary). Lay on top of the basil and garlic, drizzle over the olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, then add a generous sprinkle of flaky sea salt and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper.

3. Carefully mix everything together. Arrange the slices of tomatoes flat again and cover with cling film. Leave at room temp for the flavours to marry.

NOTE: I would suggest leaving everything to marinate for a minimum of 60 mins, but you can make this recipe up to 6 hours in advance which would give you the ultimate flavour hit. Leaving it at room temp allows the flavours to combine more easily and, when it comes to eating, your taste buds will be more receptive to ambient foods than anything chilled.

4. When you’re ready to eat, preheat a griddle pan and slice your ciabatta into 8 slices about 2cm thick. Brush each side of the ciabatta with a small amount of the olive oil from the anchovies (use regular oil if not using anchovies).

Grill on each side for a minute or two until nicely charred. While still hot from the griddle, gently rub one side of each slice with a piece of garlic from the tray of tomatoes.

5. Arrange the ciabatta slices on a large plate. Top with a slice of marinated tomato, brush with some of the juices from the tray, and sprinkle with a small amount of dried oregano. Finally, lay over an anchovy on each slice. Gobble down.

Final thought

These guys and girls are perfect to serve when entertaining. Pair them with your drinks (like this one) while you prep your main meal.

Speak next week.


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Tag your dishes with #eatmywordslondon, or hit reply to this email with a photo.


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Eat My Words · Kew Gardens · Kew, TW9 · United Kingdom

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