Sunday, 6 May 2012

Friselle with Tomato and Mozzarella

Have you ever had friselle?  They're these breads from the Puglia region in Italy.  They're ring shaped, about the size of a bagel, and they're baked twice.  First, half-baked, they're taken out, cut in half, then they're returned to the oven.  When they're taken out they're left out to dry completely.  You eat them almost like a bruschetta.  But it's more fun.  Typically on a table you'll have three dishes at the center of the table.  One plate with a pile of friselle, one bowl of water and one bowl of this tomato salsa.  You take a frisella and you dip it in the bowl of water for a couple of seconds.  Then you put it on your own plate and you slather on some tomato salsa, and you wait.  You wait for a minute or two until the dried bread absorbs all the tomatoey goodness and becomes soft.  Now it's difficult to get this right -- you can't have it too soggy that you can't even pick it up without it falling apart, but neither can you have it crunchy.
Whenever I think of friselle, I think of summers on the beach, eating this outdoors along with cured meats and pickled vegetables at a BBQ in Taranto, Puglia.  It's one of those things that makes me nostalgic.
The most typical tomato salsa that you put on top is simply tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt and origano.  But there are so many variations you can do -- I need the basil and I had some mozzarella in my fridge.  It's always nice with some anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes, capers and olives as well.

4 friselle
4 large tomatoes, chopped
basil, torn
mozzarella, chopped
garlic, finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil

Adjust the quantities of all the ingredients to your liking and season.
Eat with a bowl of water and a bowl of the salsa on the side.  Dip the friselle in the water for a couple of seconds, then take it out and spoon over the tomato mixture on top.  Let it sit for a minute or two then eat.

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