Garlic Bread, the Italian Way

Today I want to share with you a recipe that goes back to my university days, when I had the good fortune of spending a semester in Tuscany.

Everything there - the friends, the food, the wine, the art, the landscape, the I-could-go-on-with-this-forever - was wonderful.

Everything, that is, but the bread.
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You see, in Tuscany, the bread is made without salt. (A throwback, we were told, to a time centuries ago when Pisa, in a tiff, cut off Florence’s salt supply). Doesn’t sound like a big deal? 

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We struggled. I’m certain that with time we would have come to appreciate the Tuscan bread, unsalted but full of history and pride. But we were only there for a short time and, being surrounded by immediately-delicious things, we passed over the bread - which showed up nearly everyday at breakfast and dinner - in favour of other things.  

Except when they made this.

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Through the simple act of rubbing a clove of garlic over its freshly-toasted surface, then drizzling bottle-green olive oil and sprinkling salt into its cragged crevices, the Tuscan bread was transformed.  


One bite of this Italian-style garlic bread - we called it simply The Bread - and we were hooked. 

Whenever it was served, we knew we had done something right. Or maybe our resident chef just wanted to use up all that leftover bread. Either way, we were happy.

Here it is: The Bread.


The Bread
Consider this: my ingredients will undoubtedly be different from yours. My slice of bread may be larger, my clove of garlic smaller, my olive oil and salt more or less flavourful. So adjust the quantities until you’ve got something that tastes great to you! Just remember: better quality ingredients will yield better results. (And I’m not going to insist that you use unsalted bread.) 
Makes 2 servings*

2 pieces of bread, cut ¾-1-inch thick
1 clove of garlic, cut in half 
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Two good-sized pinches of sea salt (I used Maldon)

1. Toast your bread until it’s golden-brown. A toaster, toaster oven, broiler or grill will do just fine!
2. As soon as the bread has toasted, rub half a clove of garlic - cut side down - evenly across the surface of one piece of bread. You want to use enough pressure that the clove wears away, transferring to the surface of the crispy bread. Repeat with the other half-clove and piece of toasted bread.
3. Drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil and sprinkle 1 good pinch of salt over each slice of bread. Eat while it’s hot!


*If you want to make a bunch of slices at once, work in batches or get someone to help you, as the garlic transfers to the bread best when the bread is still hot. 

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P.S. A big shout-out to my sister, Lauren, for baking the lovely loaf of bread you see in the first photo, and my brother-in-law, Rob, for passing me a magnifying glass and an idea. Thanks guys!

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