Earlier this summer, I was invited to try the new menu at Osteria 57, a cozy Italian restaurant in downtown Manhattan. I am always excited to crack open a menu at an Italian restaurant in New York City, but I was especially excited to try this particular one because it had a unique approach to the beloved cuisine: Everything on the menu was pescatarian or vegetarian. Yes, you read that correctly. To every Italian American grandmother’s dismay, there is absolutely no meat to be found anywhere on the menu.
As a pescatarian myself (leaning towards vegetarian most days), I know firsthand that when you can’t rely on meat as the backbone of a dish, you really lean on fresh produce for flavor. And this is why Executive chef Riccardo Orfino makes weekly trips to the local farmers market, building his menu around the seasonal produce he finds.
While the entire meal was delicious, I was surprised to find that my favorite dish was the simplest: A Pane e Pomodoro — which literally translates to bread and tomatoes — where the juicy summer tomatoes picked up at the farmer's market really shined. It was packed with flavor, while also being so light and simple, that I knew I needed the recipe to recreate at home for my next dinner party. Lucky for me (and all of you), Orfino was more than willing to share. Even better news? You likely already have most of the ingredients on hand.
You can serve it in one big batch and let your guests dish it up themselves, or portion each serving out into a stylish glass and have one waiting on each guests plate at the start of your meal.
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PANE E POMODORO
- 2 cups bread croutons
- 3 ripe tomatoes
- 3 teaspoon capers
- 2 tablespoon dry oregano
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh basil
To make the croutons, cut bread into 1-inch cubes, lightly season with olive oil, salt and pepper and toast in the oven.
Tip: Use left-over bread or a loaf that is starting to go stale. (Orfino says he personally doesn’t like to waste bread, and this is a great way to not throw it away).
Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 2 minutes. Then transfer into a bowl of ice water until they cool down. This will help you remove the skin from the tomatoes.
Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds.
Mix the tomatoes with a hand blender, add salt, capers, olive oil and dry oregano.
To serve: Put a handful of crispy croutons in a small bowl, top with a scoop of the tomato mixture. Finish with a good amount of fresh basil and drizzle of olive oil.
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