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(Photo: David Loftus.)

Family Italian, a new cookbook release from famed Italian chef (and Jamie Oliver mentor) Gennaro Contaldo, is packed with the recipes we want to cook. From haute cuisine to rustic peasant food — we love the whole spectrum — Family Italian is one of those books that puts you in the mood for a big, hearty dinner. Start off with this seasonal summer bruschetta, featuring ripe tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. 

Bruschetta was always made with leftover bread, which was toasted in the oven, then rubbed with garlic, anointed with olive oil and finished with whatever toppings were in seasonally. We enjoyed this classic Mediterranean version during the summer. Nowadays, of course, bruschetta is eaten all year round and served in restaurants as a starter. I make it at home, especially when I’m barbecuing meat; the toasted bread with the slight smokiness is delicious.

I usually serve it as a starter before the meat is cooked, and no sooner is a plate of it put in the center of the table than it magically disappears and I get requests for more. It is ideal for large groups of people at parties; it looks lovely on a big platter and tastes delicious.