The simplicity of this Calabrian dish is stunning, and for that reason there is no point in even thinking about it until that time in late summer when utterly ripe, red, and flavorful garden tomatoes are in season—preferably from your own or a neighbor's garden. That's where the flavor lies—there and in the use of fine extra-virgin olive oil, good crunchy sea salt, a zesty dash of hot red chili, and, of course, the charcoal fire on which the tomatoes are set to roast. Toast the bread over the charcoal embers after you finish the tomatoes, so it will be crisp but not tough and hard.
Use smaller tomatoes for this—cluster tomatoes are great, even very small ones like Sweet 100s or grape tomatoes, but make sure they don't slip through the grill. Note that you could also cook the tomatoes on a stovetop grill or even under an oven broiler.
Serve Pomodori Schiacciati as a primo, either with toasted bread or pasta.
- 2-1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, fully ripe but firm to the touch
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Ground or crumbled dried red chili
- 6 slices country-style bread
- 1 garlic clove (optional)
1. Have ready a charcoal fire or glowing wood embers in a fireplace. Set up a grill. Rinse and dry the tomatoes and set them on the grill about 3 inches above the coals. Grill or roast until they have softened and the skins are starting to split open. Remove the tomatoes, using tongs, before they turn totally soft and slip through the grill. Transfer the tomatoes to a serving dish and squash them lightly with a fork so that the juices run out a little. Immediately dress them generously with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and chili and mix the dressing into the tomato juices.
2. Toast the bread slices, over the embers if possible. If you wish, rub a cut clove of garlic over each slice. Set the toasts on plates, spooning the tomato sauce on top. Serve immediately.