Best Crostini Recipe Ever + Breaking Bread in L’Aquila

Maria Filice‘s Breaking Bread in L’Aquila is a product of love — love for her late husband Paul Piccone, of his native city L’Aquila in Abruzzo (yes, the same one that was devastated by an earthquake last year), of her own Calabrian heritage (Marie’s parents were born in Cosenza), and of delicious, simply prepared Italian food.

Marie graciously shares this amore with us, and indeed, is donating net proceeds of the book to the continuing relief efforts in Abruzzo and is also appearing in Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Abruzzo this Saturday, May 15, if you’re in the neighborhood!

The layout of this hardcover book is gorgeous with the recipes on the left side and full-color photos on the right — for each and every recipe. And the organization is unique as well: recipes are divided into menus that include antipasti (appetizers), primi piatti (usually pasta), secondi piatti (meat), contorni (vegetables), and dolci (desserts) for each day of the week; if you have a special dinner coming up, you can just open up Maria’s book and have a menu all set. Perfetto!

Many of Maria’s 50 or so recipes are classics like aglio olio peperoncino and bruschetta, but there are also some that were new to both Paolo and me. On my first run through, I made a note of at least five different recipes to try immediately with things we already had in the house.

In case you don’t realize, that’s pretty darn impressive for a southern Italian cookbook in a southern Italian house.

Speaking of items we had on hand, Maria also includes the “Pantry Page” with a checklist of things you should always keep handy. That stocked pantry is one of the most important parts of true Italian cooking, i.e., deciding what’s for dinner based on what you have on hand, and even better, having it on the table within about an hour. *That* is an Italian art form, and Maria has captured its essence wonderfully.

Breaking Bread in L’Aquila would be an excellent addition to any cookbook collection as it is not only full of great recipes, it’s simply a gorgeous book. Even if you don’t cook, you’ll enjoy the photos! And if you need a gift, particularly for someone with an interest in Italian and/or southern Italian cuisine, this is perfect.

I give this cookbook five extremely full espresso cups out of five; I couldn’t recommend it more.


Maria is offering up a copy of Breaking Bread in L’Aquila to one lucky Bleeding Espresso reader. Just comment on this post by May 20, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. (CET) to enter.

Now, without further ado, Maria’s recipe for Crostini with my slight adaptations; I am not exaggerating when I say I’ve made these at least once a week since I received Maria’s book (on Paolo’s specific request). We’ve had them as afternoon snacks and as dinner. They are so, so, so good — especially with a nice glass of red wine.

Crostini from Breaking Bread in L’Aquila by Maria Filice
(as adapted by me)
(serves 2)

  • 6 slices of Italian bread, about 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 small to medium-sized balls of fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • Handful of capers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Oregano and salt to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

2. In a small bowl, mix together tomatoes, olive oil, oregano, and salt. Let stand while you arrange the rest.

3. Arrange slices of bread in a single layer on a baking sheet.

4. Place a slice or two of mozzarella on the bread so that you cover most of it.

5. Put an anchovy fillet on each slice of bread (more if you like anchovies like we do!).

6. Add some capers to each slice (I put three or four on each slice — we like capers too).

7. Cover the slices with the tomato mixture. I’ve found a fork actually works better than a spoon for this; you don’t want a whole lot of liquid making it onto the crostini as it’ll make the bread soggy.

8. Sprinkle with more oregano.

9. Bake in the oven for about 7 or 8 minutes, or until cheese melts.

10. Serve immediately, preferably with a glass of red wine.

Buon appetito!

77 Beans of Wisdom to “Best Crostini Recipe Ever + Breaking Bread in L’Aquila”
« Older Comments
  1. Erica

    I could really use this book! It looks gorgeous!

    Good luck Erica!

  2. Lee Yin

    OOOOH l’aquila sounds like an awesome book.

    Best of luck!

  3. Marla

    Sounds like a wonderful cookbook and a good cause too! Thanks for the chance to own a copy.

    Best of luck!

  4. Pam

    Making this for lunch today!..mmm!….thank you!

    My pleasure Pam!

  5. 05.17.2010

    Hi Michelle
    I love cookbooks in general but one with a true Italian flavor is always the most welcomed and used in my kitchen.
    I’d love a chance to win this book! I also have a cookbook give away going on at my blog –Rocco DiSpirito’s new reduced calorie cookbook called “Now Eat This” I recently won a trip to meet him….lots of fun in unexpected! Blogging has surly given me lots of nice surprises!
    ? Pat

    I haven’t seen that one yet by DiSpirito; thanks for the tip! And congratulations…how cool!

    .-= Pat´s last blog .."Into the Heart of L.A." Culinary Tour — Part One =-.

  6. 05.17.2010

    Even if I’m not the lucky one to win the book. It does look like a wonderful addition to anyone’s cook book selection. Nice cause as well.

    Best of luck!

  7. 05.18.2010

    I love to eat italian – and I have only just lately started. I would like another italian cookbook!

    Best of luck Jo!

  8. Ann

    Oh! Looks so tasty!

    Thanks Ann, and good luck!

  9. 05.19.2010

    I would LOVE to add another fantastic Italian cookbook to my shelves!

    I know you’d love this book Heather; good luck!

    .-= Skinny Sushi´s last blog ..Why I Failed… =-.

  10. Jill

    I have added this book to my wishlist, it looks wonderful!

    Good luck in the drawing, Jill!

  11. 05.19.2010

    The cookbook sounds wonderful! My husband is from Abruzzo and my daughter’s husband is from Calabria.

    You’re surrounded Lori! Best of luck :)

  12. 05.19.2010

    Oh, what a beautiful book! I’d love to add that to my poor, little cookbook shelf!

    Best of luck Jenilyn!

    .-= Jenilyn´s last blog ..Posing My First Challenge =-.

  13. 05.19.2010

    This sounds like a great recipe and a great book.

    Best of luck FH!

    .-= The Food Hunter´s last blog ..Philadelphia…Food, Friends and Turning 40 =-.

  14. Claudia

    Her cookbook is on my list – even went to Barnes and Noble to no avail. Why oh why are your toppings so much prettier than mine? I love the juxtaposition of the photos! Will be dropping by your writing blog – I am also a writer. Will be fun to see.

    The photos in the book are really incredible…they really make you want to whip up one of everything!

  15. Shanster

    Hey – thanks for commenting on my site… now I’ve found you and can follow you! :)

    Well thanks for following me, Shanster! :)

  16. I just love your site and your comments….makes my day!

    My friend and I were in Rome last year during the earthquake…we stayed 6 weeks and visited many lovely villages…intended to see L’aquila but the earthquake dampened our visit. We did by-pass the village and saw many damaged homes..very sad..a lot of volunteers and medics were around. We stopped at a sandwich wagon on the road on the way out and had the hugest (is that a real word) sausage, onion, pepper sandwich with Italian bread. Man, was that delicious!
    If I don’t win the book, I will buy one and one for my friend also.
    Thanks for doing this, Michelle.

    Mary Floridia-Rankin

    Thanks so much for sharing your kind thoughts and memories, Mary, and best of luck in the contest :)

  17. 05.20.2010

    The picture of those beautiful red tomatoes and the crusty bread makes me hungry –thank you for all the great recipes and the piece of Italy you send to my email inbox every week.

    Thanks so much for reading and visiting Nicole!

  18. 05.20.2010

    Beautiful book. Beautiful crostini.

    Thanks Michele and good luck!

    .-= Michele Napoli´s last blog ..Dinner Tonight =-.

  19. Rebecca

    It is before breakfast time here in the US, but I am reading to start cooking after reading the crostini recipe. Yum! Thanks for posting it, Michele – it just became the focus of my week-end menu!

    Enjoy your weekend, Rebecca :)

  20. Mindy Smith

    I would love to win this book! I would give it to my niece Brenna. She is a lovely young woman and recently got married to the fabulous Tobias. They love to cook together and this lovely book would be a great addition to their ever growing cookbook library. Grazie!

    So sweet, Mindy; good luck!

  21. 05.20.2010

    grazie….I love the idea of the donation….and the book looks delish!

    That is a great word to describe this book, Marybeth :) Thanks for coming by!

  22. Jessica S.

    That crostini looks TO DIE FOR! My mouth is watering just looking at it! I love you blog, always brightens my day :)

    Thanks so much Jessica, and good luck!

  23. 05.21.2010

    Ciao , love the crostini , looks so moreish. I am learning Italian at night classes in Mt Martha , Australia in preparation for travels south from Rome and Calabria , Puglia and onto Sicily so would find this book inspiring ! Love most everything about Italy particularly the wamth of the Italians their enthusiasm for life food and love. Buonasera from Australia Carole Fitzgerald.

    How wonderful, Carole! Buon viaggio 😀

  24. Pam

    Just curious Michelle…..who won?….he he!

    I hope you saw the announcement over at the FB fan page? A lovely gal who runs cooking courses out of Puglia named Cinzia 😀

  25. 03.18.2011

    I was lucky engough to have met her and others in Santo Stefano that day. The author is an amazing woman, and her book is also fun!

    Thanks for commenting, Joshua!

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