Grilled Bread with Smashed Tomatoes from FRENCH GRILL

Grilled bread. The first time I made this for French friends, they couldn’t believe it. How could something so simple and basic be SO GOOD? French is such a bread culture yet bread has its place, and that place is sliced, in a basket, as a support for cheese, a pusher for salad, a sopper for sauce. Grilled? It really takes the Italians for that, and here, I’ve crossed the border and introduced it to France! And just in case you wondered, everyone I know is making it now! Because this is quick, you can make it while the grill is heating, and have it ready for guests when they arrive so they don’t notice that dinner isn’t quite ready! ASTUCE: I brush the bread with oil – not too much – before grilling, then brush it again once it’s off the grill. This avoids flare-ups which might add a not-so-good flavor to the toasted bread. It also keeps the fat level down. I get a wonderful organic bread from the food coop in Louviers that looks as though it was made for a giant – it’s a long, fat loaf studded with grains and made with the greatest blend of spelt and wheat flours. Try and find something similar for this recipe. SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: long tongs, pastry brush PREPARATION TIME: about 4 minutes DIFFICULTY LEVEL: simple
  • 4 1/2-inch; 1.25cm thick slices sourdough or other of your favorite bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or to taste
  • 1 to 2 fat cloves garlic peeled
  • 4 ripe tomatoes cut in half
  • Fleur de sel
  1. Build a medium-sized fire in the barbecue. When the coals are red and dusted with ash, speared them in a tight, single layer; they need to emit concentrated heat. Set the grill over the coals.
  2. Brush the slices of bread on each side lightly but thoroughly with olive oil. Set the slices on the grill and toast until they are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the slices and repeat, until the bread is crisp and toasty and even very dark on the outer edges (if you like really toasted bread the way I do).
  3. Transfer the slices to a cutting board and brush them on one side with oil. Quickly and thoroughly rub them with the garlic cloves on one side. Cut them into serving-sized pieces, then arrange them on a platter. Serve immediately with the tomatoes, with instructions to your guests to smash and rub the cut side of the tomato firmly over the surface of the hot grilled bread then enjoy!

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