Serves 6 as an appetizer

This is the favorite snack of my third-born boy, Luca. When the whole, extended family gathers together to prepare a meal, the children pitch in to help make the tomato topping, which can be prepared without a knife by simply ripping the tomatoes and basil by hand into the bowl. The adults and children eat every last bit up before supper. Use the freshest and best possible tomatoes. The tomato mixture can also be tossed with cooked pasta for a fresh sauce.


  • One 8-inch loaf round, Italian bread, cut in half crosswise, then into 10 slices per side
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 6 Roma tomatoes, cut into 1-inch dice (about 3 cups)
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, cleaned, stacked in a pile, rolled and cut into a fine julienne
  • 6 cloves garlic, 3 crushed and 3 cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 tsp. coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


    Preheat oven to 450° F. Set the oven rack in the top part of oven.

    Place sliced bread on rimmed baking sheets. Cook 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Flip bread and toast 5 more minutes.

    Meanwhile, in a medium-size bowl, place the olive oil, tomatoes, basil, 3 crushed garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

    Rub the 3 halved garlic cloves, cut-side down, over every piece of toasted bread. Spoon a couple tablespoons of tomato mixture over each piece of toast and serve immediately.

    Excerpted from Lucinda's Rustic Italian Kitchen © 2007 by Lucinda Scala Quinn. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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