I first tasted these little Italian toasties at a favourite restaurant of mine in Joburg, which sadly is no more. As best I could, I’ve tried to replicate the flavours by using fresh ingredients, gorgeous ripe sweet tomatoes and getting the bread perfectly crisped. Serve these as finger snacks – along with some side plates, because your guests are bound to have more than one, and you’ll save yourself from picking up bits of tomato off the floor.
- 1 baguette,
- 1 punnet of ripe rosa tomatoes (approximately 250g),
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and a little extra for the bread,
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled
- 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- A handful of basil, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to season
Preheat your oven to 180°C. You’re not going to use the grill because these can burn easily – I find that toasting and turning in the oven is just fine. Dice the tomatoes and combine them with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, seasoning and about three quarters of the basil. Set this aside to allow the flavours to infuse.
Slice the baguette diagonally; making sure each slice is about the width of your index finger. Lay the slices down on a greased or lined baking tray, and lightly brush them with olive oil. Cut the tip of the garlic clove off so that you have a flat surface to rub over the bread. Without a heavy hand, give each slice of bread a quick once-over with the garlic, just to lightly flavour it. Pop these into the oven and let them toast for just a few minutes. Watch them closely and keep turning them over to check that both sides are getting an even, golden colour.
Allow the toasted bread to cool off slightly before topping each one with a spoonful of the tomato. And then garnish with a little of the reserved chopped basil. These are best served immediately while the bread is still crisp.