Thursday, May 3, 2012

Italy for the love of summer frills

Italian market - tomato varieties

There are places in Italy that have small town charm ever inviting travelers back with memorable warm hospitality. This is a guaranteed travel frill that can not be found in a brochure or redesigned any time of year. And then there are the tomatoes that have been the thread of Italian culture and cuisine forever. Once when travel was less cumbersome you could bring back a tomato with the vine attached. You could even pick a token of fennel growing wild on the side of the road where the cows wandered outside of their pasture. The Mama Leone Italian tomato is as authentic as it gets. A great tomato used mostly for fresh summer sauces and making paste for the rest of the year. It is an heirloom tomato that was brought from Italy to New York. With this recipe below you can create a popular Tuscan salad known for its use of tomatoes.  
Panzanella*, is a Tuscan salad combining oil, basil, vinegar, tomatoes, cucumber, minced onion, and stale Italian bread soaked in water, then squeezed dry. Mamma mia!
*Italian, from pane ‘bread’ + zanella ‘small basket’