Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pane cunzato- for anchovy lovers

It doesn't get any more Mediterranean than this. I just made it for lunch and it was so good I ended up eating twice as much as I had planned. It is a good summertime pizza-substitute for when you're craving pizza but can't stand the idea of heat. It also uses up your flavorful August tomatoes.

Pane cunzato (in standard Italian, pane conciato- dressed bread) is fresh (not day-old or stale bread) with the addition of olive oil, salt and pepper, fresh tomatoes, oregano and anchovies. Some versions use a cheese called primosale. And of course there are other variants.

This is what I did. Right after gym this morning I went to the nearby supermarket and bought the crusty bread, cherry tomatoes, anchovies and fresh mozzarella. Among other things. I hurried home, warmed the bread lightly in a toaster oven. In the meantime I halved the cherry tomatoes and diced the mozzarella. I opened the bread, drizzled generously with extra-virgin olive oil, then pressed the tomatoes open side down into the bread. Salted lightly (remember the anchovies!) and added freshly ground pepper. Topped with cheese, oregano and anchovies. I closed the bread, sandwich-like. At this point some real, live Sicilians will slice the bread into strips, but I didn't. Others leave it open-faced.

Variants: substitute olives for anchovies if you dislike the latter or are a vegetarian. Substitute white anchovies and marjoram and leave open for a refined touch. Leave out cheese, limit olive oil (but don't omit!) and serve open-faced for a lighter version. I do not advise the use of very savory cheeses such as feta.