I thought this up while daydreaming over that splendid Italian peasant dish Panzanella. It is essential that you find really good, sweet tomatoes – none of those tasteless Dutch numbers. Passata is a purée of tomatoes, easily found in most supermarkets or delicatessens.
Have enough tomatoes to overfill the pudding basin you will use. Dip into boiling water and peel them. Chop roughly and sprinkle with good sea salt and black pepper plus a tiny bit of sugar. Pour some passata into a large soup plate and season with lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce, and maybe a touch of Tabasco. Soak the bread slices briefly in this mixture and line your bowl with them, leaving no cracks nor crannies.
To the tomatoes add as much crushed garlic as you fancy, a good measure of olive oil and lots of torn up basil leaves. Adjust the seasoning and pour the whole lot into the bread-lined bowl. Seal the top with more soaked bread. Place a receptacle on top with weights and leave overnight in the refrigerator. Turn out on to a fine dish and surround with goodies – quail’s eggs, olives, peppers, capers or what you will. A bowl of sour cream might be passed round with it, or good home-made mayonnaise.
© 1996 Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright estate. All rights reserved.