Recipe: Pappa al pomodoro

By Silvia Nacamulli, May 6, 2010
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Do you ever wonder what to do with leftover bread when it starts getting hard and stale?

Well, do not bin it, as there are a few tasty options. One is to make small croutons to use in a soup. Another is to wait until it becomes really hard and then make breadcrumbs – just cut off chunks and put them in a food processor until finely crumbled. The third option is to make the famous pappa al pomodoro. This simple and delicious peasant dish comes from the Tuscan country side. Its raison d'etre is to make a dish from left over food, or food that you would not essentially eat at that stage anymore, such as hard stale bread. The important thing is to let the bread harden in a dark dry place, never in the fridge or in a plastic bag, otherwise it goes mouldy.

Ideally, use a paper bag or a closed basket. Keep the bread to one side, forup to a couple of weeks. So next time you have some leftover bread which is just too hard to eat, use it to make pappa al pomodoro. And don't forget the drizzle of extra virgin olive oil just before serving.

Preparation time: 1 hour. Serves 4-6 people.

Ingredients

● 800g plum tomatoes in tomato juice
● 6-7 slices of hard/stale bread (brown or white)
● 2-3 crushed cloves garlic
● Bunch fresh basil
● 100 ml extra-virgin olive oil for cooking plus drizzle on each portion at the end
● Splash of white wine (optional)

Method

● Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan together with the crushed garlic and a little salt.
● Splash a little white wine and once evaporated add the plum tomatoes broken into small pieces. Leave it to cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
● Remove the lid and leave to cook for another few minutes until the sauce condenses a little.
● Break the bread into small to medium chunks and add it to the tomato sauce.
● Tip: wet the bread for a few seconds under running water before adding it to the saucepan.
● Add some more salt and stir thoroughly. Cover again and leave it to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 30-40 minutes. The bread should mop up most of the tomato sauce. However, if it appears too dry add a few spoonfuls of water while it is cooking.
● Switch off the flame, add the basil, and leave to stand for a couple of minutes.
● Serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. You can also serve it cold or at room temperature.

Silvia Nacamulli’s website is www.cookingforthesoul.com

    Last updated: 11:33am, May 6 2010