While in Panarea, pane cunzatu was one of the specialties most eateries advertised. This dressed bread is a cooked until hard crown of pane di semola-hard wheat bread, softened with the juice and flesh of little tomatoes and enlivened by capers, basil, oregano, olive oil...kind of a seminal food for one like me. I tried my hand at it. Two things were happiest about playing with pane cunzatu: cooking it in a bikini and watching the joy and taste with which the children ate it.
1 pound cherry tomatoes salt to taste 1/3 cup capers packed in salt 1 handful fresh basil leaves 1/4 of a small red onion 2 to 3 teaspoons dried oregano pepper to taste 1 10-12" crown hard semolina bread (this is fairly common in Italian bakeries) olive oil to taste Quarter the cherry tomatoes and place them in a colander inside a bowl. Season them liberally with salt, toss them well and squeeze them gently to let the juices run. Set aside.
Rinse all the salt off the capers and soak them in warm water. Stack the basil leaves, roll them and slice them gently in very thin ribbons. Slice the onion very thinly. Drain and rinse the capers then squeeze off the excess water.
Add the oregano, basil, capers and onions to the tomatoes and toss well. Adjust salt and pepper.
Lift the colander, you should have plenty of tomato juice.
Lay the bread on a platter and crack it in chunks by hand. Sprinkle it lightly with salt then pour the tomato juice all over it. It should be nicely wet and soft, but not soaked to the point that excess water sweats out of it. If it needs it, just add a bit of still water to it.
Dress both the bread and the tomatoes generously with olive oil. Toss the tomatoes again and taste for flavor, adjust seasoning if it needs it. If there is more tomato juice, pour it on the bread.
Arrange the tomatoes all over the bread and garnish with a few basil tips and flowers . Bring to the table.
- This dish can be enriched with many things to make it a more filling meal
- I served sides of tuna packed in oil, soft boiled eggs, anchovies, olives, shaved aged ricotta that people could pick from
- I am, of course and as always, partial to anchovies