This is a real winner of a recipe, simple, fast, nutritious and delicious, combining some of my favourite things. The Italians always get it right. They came up with this classic combination of cheese, tomatoes and basil that works so well in salads as well as pizzas. This little bruschetta is somewhere between the two.
I sent my Abu Dhabi spy out in search of buffalo mozzarella, which you really do need for the flavour and yummy consistency. No joy at LuLu, and at Spinneys my secret shopper was greeted with a rueful shake of the head when she asked at the cheese counter if they stocked it.
Thankfully she is a highly trained investigative journalist and does not give up easily. She popped over to the dairy fridge where they keep the normal mozzarella and there it was, lurking among the lesser brands, several packets of creamy Mandara buffalo mozzarella.
I remember when my boys were much smaller and we used to make pizza at home. I used buffalo mozzarella, even though some say it's a waste of good cheese because you can't taste the flavour like you can when it's semi-raw or uncooked. I still like it, and it seems stringier and more flavoursome to me even on a pizza. Anyway, there I was, trying to explain the importance of using the real thing, when Marco Junior asked: "How can a buffalo make mozzarella?"
Funnily enough, although buffalo mozzarella is now favoured among gourmands, it used to be the preserve of the poor. They would make it from the milk produced by the wild, roaming water buffalo deep in the Italian countryside.
These bruschetta are so adaptable. You can serve them to the kids with some tinned tomato soup, or to your posh friends with an apéro, or along with some pasta. Bruschetta is a great picnic food, too. Cut the bread slightly on the bias to allow more room for the topping and eat as soon as they are done, otherwise the cheese will congeal and lose its charm. Which would be a shame for you both.
MAKE IT YOURSELF
Bruschetta of fresh tomato, basil and buffalo mozzarella
800g ripe Roma tomatoes (about 6 or 7) 20ml extra virgin olive oil
10g garlic (4 or 5 cloves), finely crushed
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
40 pcs crusty French baguette slices, 1cm thick
80g buffalo mozzarella, shredded
20g fresh basil leaves (around 10), chopped
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Core the tomatoes, cut in quarters, discard the seeds and cut into 3mm cubes.
3. Place the tomato cubes in a bowl, mix with olive oil and crushed garlic, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
4. Place the bread slices on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes or until the slices turn golden brown on both sides.
5. Remove and top with tomato mixture.
6. Finish each slice with the shredded buffalo mozzarella and return to the oven briefly to melt.
7. Drizzle with olive oil and chopped basil leaves and serve.