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A fresh take on the simple bread and tomato lunch

By J.M. Hirsch
Associated Press

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Obviously, the season has a role in this, but lately I’ve found myself craving bread and fresh tomatoes.

When I was a kid, my go-to summer sandwich was slabs of whole-wheat bread smeared thickly with Miracle Whip and topped with hunks of extra-sharp cheddar cheese and a single slab of tomato. The slab had to be at least 1 inch thick and had to be cut from the center of the fruit. It was heaven. Rich and creamy and sharp and fresh.

By the time I was a tween, my family had moved to Germany and weekends were spent driving around various parts of Europe. No matter where we were, lunch always followed the same template: We’d stop at a local bakery and grab a heavy loaf of rustic bread. Then on to a grocer for tomatoes, a hunk of cheese and a jar of blisteringly hot mustard. Then we’d find a park and sit down with our spread.

It was a wonderfully delicious way to explore the different cuisines. The breads and cheeses vary so much between regions and countries.

Now that I’m adult and have a child of my own, I don’t find myself wandering Europe during weekends quite so much. But I still crave — particularly this time of year — the simple pleasure of bread and tomato. So I decided to create a grown-up version, rich with garlic and rosemary.

But the focus, as it should be, remains on the bread and tomatoes.

TOASTED PARMESAN TOMATO BREAD

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 large sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped

¼ cup olive oil

½ tbsp. kosher salt

Ground black pepper

4 large, thick slices sourdough bread

4 large tomatoes

3 oz. Parmesan cheese

Heat the oven to broil.

In a small, sturdy bowl, combine the garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt and black pepper, to taste. Mix well, then use the back of a heavy spoon to mash the garlic and rosemary together to form a paste. This also can be done using a mortar and pestle, or a mini food processor.

Spread a quarter of the mixture over one side of each slice of bread.

Slice 2 thick slabs out of the center of each tomato. Reserve the tops and bottoms of the tomatoes for another use. Set 2 slabs over each piece of bread. Shave some of the Parmesan over the tomatoes on each slice. Set the assembled bread on a baking sheet and broil on the oven’s middle rack until the cheese is just starting the brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.


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