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 375Β°F (190Β°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”
  1. Wow – this is really something I would LOVE to own! I might even have to buy a copy for Vicki! Can’t wait to see who the lucky BE reader is going to be who gets this!

    Salena, you will *love* this, and so will Vicki!

  2. 05.12.2010

    That is wonderful how you copied her dish and posed it in front of her photo! You are cool, Michele.

    I wanted to give folks an idea of just how gorgeous the book is too, but taking interesting photos of a book can be…challenging. Don’t you love our classy wine glass there in the middle? Normally we drink from Nutella glasses, so that was actually a step up πŸ˜‰

  3. Martha

    oh that looks great! a must-have i think! thanks for the chance πŸ™‚

    Best of luck, Martha!

  4. 05.12.2010

    This seems like a no-brainer to me. All I have to do is comment on this post and I have a chance of winning “Breaking Bread in L’Aquila”. I can do that!

    I’m not a true cook. I can follow a recipe and produce nice food but improvisation in the kitchen is not my forte.

    One of the most praised dishes I ever made was a ragu based on a recipe by Marcella Hazan.

    After trying to recreate the flavours of dishes I’ve had in Italy I’ve come to realise that one of the most important ingredients is time. Of course it can be hard to get the best flavoured tomatoes, the most intense garlic and the zingiest oil but unless you set aside time for the dish to peak you are on a loser.

    That ragu I mentioned took more than six hours from start to finish, a lot of it simmering on a hob, but worth every minute.

    From reading your blog it’s clear that you love food and if you give this book 5 out of 5 then it must be special.

    I think I’ll just buy it and if I’m lucky enough to win, someone will get a super gift.

    What a great idea, Felix! Thanks for sharing your cooking adventures, and best of luck!

    .-= Felix´s last blog ..Searching for Dolphins with Carrigaholt Dolphinwatch =-.

  5. 05.12.2010

    how can I resist? I must leave a comment and I must try those crostini, I can almost feel the flavour in my mouth!

    Best of luck, Ilva!

    .-= ilva´s last blog ..Paper Chef #51 Duck-breast with Wasabi Panna Cotta and Tomato Twist =-.

  6. 05.12.2010

    Mmm, looks delicious…it’s not time for lunch, but now I’m hungry!

    The smell of these in the oven is amazing too, Meredith!

    .-= meredith´s last blog ..Seen in France…an American fan =-.

  7. 05.12.2010

    As always, thank you so much for the great book recommendations! I love books with lots of photos and I love the cuisine of Abruzzo! I’ll recommend this book as well. Thank you so much!

    Best of luck!

    .-= stile mediterraneo´s last blog ..Cutting salt by cooking with herbs =-.

  8. jgk

    We had a memorable visit to L’Aquila in 2008. I would love to have the cookbook!

    How lovely! Best of luck!

  9. 05.12.2010

    “having it on the table within about an hour.” You got me on that one! The crostini looks lovely! I can drop the anchovies to make it vegetarian (I’m struggling to try to be “vegetarian” for a few weeks and see if it takes!). My mouth is watering just looking at it … at 5:59 in the morning. I bet it could be breakfast!

    I could eat this for breakfast, definitely πŸ™‚

    .-= This Eclectic Life´s last blog ..Uncommon Angles =-.

  10. Nell

    I think the menu idea in the book is brilliant, no brainer just open the book and wahla everything thought for you.
    I’m always refiling through my cook books for different combination ‘s.
    The crostini recipe was most excellent ,I just didn’t use the anchovy { allergy to fish}substituted crispy ponchetta instead.

    Yum! This is a very versatile recipe…so many options!

  11. Oh my! Come’ fantistico!! This reminds me of those made by my southern Italian mother in law Concetta! The only thing better would be to have them made on her home baked bread! She would always make these for our sons minus the anchovies (Valentino loves anchovies but the boys, not so much)! Yesterday I wrote about Concetta’s skills in the garden, bringing the food then to the table. Mother’s Day my own mother and I reminisced about precious Concetta – my mother adored her too! I suspect this book will be one of those ‘have to haves’ in my cookbook collection!

    My great-grandmother’s name was Concetta πŸ™‚ Glad to bring back some nice memories; best of luck!

    .-= Bonnie (valentinoswife)´s last blog ..Tombstone Tuesday – the Burial of Winter Blues! =-.

  12. 05.12.2010

    I’m going with Felix. I already have Maria’s book, in the event I should ever win (I have been a BE e-book givaway winner!) I will make someone VERY happy with the Breaking Bread in L’Aquila gift. It is truly a great read. Michelle, you couldn’t have said it better. This review is brilliant.

    I’ll be supporting the book launch in Santo Stefano this weekend. We’ll keep you posted on the event, OK?


    Sounds good, Ele! Good luck!

    .-= Eleonora´s last blog .."Breaking Bread in L’Aquila" =-.

  13. yum…such a simple summer recipe in this post. makes me hungry πŸ™‚

    These are definitely going to be a staple for us on summer evenings when I don’t mind turning the oven on and leaving the room πŸ˜‰

  14. 05.12.2010

    It sounds like a terrific cookbook and an even more terrific cause. My husband’s relatives are from the region, not far from L’Aquila, so I would love to have that cookbook.

    Excellent! Best of luck πŸ™‚

    .-= Ciaochowlinda´s last blog ..Orange Pecan Cake =-.

  15. Yum!! As if I needed to be tempted to get this cookbook anymore! πŸ™‚ I have my fingers crossed for the drawing! πŸ™‚

    I know…this is definitely one to put on the wish list if you don’t win!

    .-= Laura from Ciao Amalfi´s last blog ..Travel Inspirations: Looking Further Than Your Own Backyard =-.

  16. Hi Michelle – this book sounds wonderful. Thank you for entering me in the giveaway. Also, I changed my blog name from City Girl Lifestyle to City|Life|Eats and am less anonymous now πŸ™‚ so yay!!

    Noted! Will change your link shortly πŸ™‚

    .-= Valerie @ City|Life|Eats´s last blog ..Happy Monday! =-.

  17. Michelle Poorman

    The cookbook looks beautiful, and I would *LOVE* to win a copy as my ancestral hometown is Isola del Gran Sasso/Arsita area, just 20 miles north of L’Aquila. I even visited the city in July 2009!

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

    Best of luck, Michelle!

  18. Charmain Giuliani

    MMMMM…I love the caper!

    I’m completely with you πŸ™‚

  19. Rose D.


    Sono d’accordo!

  20. A color photo with every single recipe? That’s amazing! It’s just too expensive for most cookbooks to have that.

    And why have I never thought of making this with a slice of fresh mozzarella before?

    Usually in Italian cooking cheese with fish is a big no-no, but it works *so* well here! And you’re right — normally cookbooks can’t afford to have so many color photos. It’s a shame, b/c they’d probably sell a lot more cookbooks that way and might actually make up the cost. Maybe?

    .-= Wandering Chopsticks´s last blog ..Introducing Baby M3 and Baby A’s First Birthday =-.

  21. 05.12.2010

    I am planning to buy a copy of this when it is available to purchase in Italy. The shipping costs from the states I felt were rather expensive at the moment, so it would be great if I did win a copy πŸ™‚

    Keep an eye out at places like the Book Depository in the UK…free shipping! It’s not there yet, though; I just checked πŸ™

    .-= LindyLouMac´s last blog ..Carta d’Identita =-.

  22. 05.12.2010

    Looks like a fabulous book! The photography alone looks good enough to eat! I also like the idea of the “pantry page” Che bell’idea!!! A presto. Melissa

    The pantry page is really a fabulous idea…and right on the money too πŸ˜‰

    .-= Melissa Muldoon´s last blog ..β€’ Votatami! =-.

  23. Jessica S.

    This looks amazing! I studied abroad in Tornio, Italy when I was in college and have since then been so in love with Italian food (not that I didn’t love it before!). The ingredients in Italy are all so fresh and delicious on their own it’s no surprise that just a few simple components can make such an amazing dish. Oh what I would do to be back in Italy…I’m sure this cookbook could take me back there!

    Indeed, Jessica…good luck!

  24. 05.12.2010

    What a wonderful looking book! The beautiful cover photography makes me want to sink into a chair and look at it for hours!

    It is *definitely* that kind of book Juliette!

  25. 05.12.2010

    Well, it would be great to win (I know, I know…I’m being a hog but I am poor) because after seeing about the book elsewhere, I ordered & sent it to a friend for her birthday. I wish I were able to be there to meet Maria on the 15th. I’ll go buy that lottery ticket now.


    No hogs here…goats maybe, but not hogs πŸ˜‰

    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Towards the Oasis =-.

  26. This book sounds amazing.

    I must try this recipe.

    Enjoy! And good luck πŸ™‚

    .-= nyc/caribbean ragazza´s last blog ..Gelateria del Teatro… some of the best gelato in Rome =-.

  27. DavidNYC

    The book sounds great and the whole concept seems wonderful. Kudos to the author for her creativity and generosity. I hope to win a book, but if not, I am sure I to buy it and one for my Italian-American mama, too.

    Sounds great, David!

  28. 05.12.2010

    Yum! You know how much I love me some Italian cooking. I love the whole idea of this book and would love to add it to my collection πŸ™‚

    Best of luck Robin!

    .-= My Melange´s last blog ..France Travel Series : Paris – 90 Minutes Until the End of the World =-.

  29. Krissi

    This book looks amazing!!! I’ve been studying Italian for about 2 1/2 years, and my teacher’s family is from L’Aquila, so I’ve been hearing all sorts of stuff about that area throughout class.

    Fun! Best of luck Krissi!

  30. 05.13.2010

    This bread looks amazing-please enter me for what seems like a fantastic cookbook-How are you?

    Doing great, Esme, thanks…and good luck!

    .-= Esme´s last blog ..Whole Wheat Veggie Pizza =-.

  31. Gil

    Crostini with anchovies, mozzarella and capers really sounds delicious!

    Gil, it’s definitely a new favorite πŸ™‚

  32. 05.13.2010

    Looks like wholesome Italian food… Right up my alley!

    You’d love this one, Scintilla!

    .-= Scintilla´s last blog ..Positano hiking– Teetering on the Brink of a Mountain =-.

  33. 05.13.2010

    We had a memorable visit to L’Aquila in 2006. I would love to have the cookbook, thanks for the chance!

    Best of luck!

    .-= Barbara´s last blog ..Premio di Beneficenza per Chef Sans Frontieres =-.

  34. Debbie

    Can’t wait to check this book out at the bookstore. Thank you for telling us about it and getting an opportunity to win.

    Good luck Debbie!

  35. Pam

    Oh my the Crostini dish looks so wonderful! mmm! Nice giveaway!


    Good luck Pam!

  36. Michele

    Hello Michelle, thanks very much for the chance to win this lovely book. What a touching and heartfelt story behind the book. My husband is Italian, and we do love Italian food. This will be an excellent addition to our repetoire. Grazie bella!

    Best of luck Michele!

  37. 05.13.2010

    That crostini looks absolutely delicious! Definitely giving it a try this week The book looks like a treasure!

    “Treasure” is a great word to describe it πŸ™‚

    .-= yael´s last blog ..Pretty Cookies =-.

  38. Catherine T

    I would read this cookbook like a picture book, it’s so pretty! Definitely something to drool over.

    Absolutely Catherine! Good luck πŸ™‚

  39. Kathy

    Che bello! I want to be entered, but I don’t think I can wait to see if I win. I want to rush right out to buy one.

    Haha, would still make a great gift for someone πŸ™‚

  40. 05.14.2010

    Oh my! I’d love to have this in my kitchen! 21 more days and I will be happily in Italy!

    Yay Deb! Good luck…and buon viaggio!

    .-= Deb R´s last blog ..Twenty Four More Sleeps til Italy 2010 =-.

  41. Antonia

    This looks like a beautiful cookbook! I would love to add it to my collection and try out all the recipes…

    Best of luck Antonia!

  42. AnnLouise Santos

    My favorite method of “armchair traveling” is through cookbooks!

    I’m with you, AnnLouise! It’s a great way to experience a culture πŸ™‚

  43. 05.14.2010

    Pick me! And if I don’t win I think this looks like a valuable addition.

    Best of luck!

    .-= running42k´s last blog ..Future Darwin Award winners =-.

  44. KarenB

    Oh yum!! The recipe sounds scrumptious. I would definitely love to add this to my collection, and share with my two cohorts-in-crime (or at least in the pool).

    Haha, best of luck KarenB!

  45. You can never have too many cookbooks ; ) And I know what crostini I’m going to be making this weekend now ; )

    Enjoy Paula, and good luck!

  46. 05.15.2010

    Had the fixings for the crostini in the fridge — it was delicious! But I can’t wait until August to have it again with my own tomatoes! Thanks for sharing the recipe and keeping my fingers crossed that I win the book! πŸ™‚

    Teri, I feel the same way…can’t wait for *our* tomatoes!

    .-= Teri´s last blog ..I never… =-.

  47. Imani

    Oh hell! Here’s my hat in the ring πŸ™‚

    Woohoo! Hat officially in πŸ™‚

  48. 05.15.2010

    I would love to win this cookbook! My dad would love this crostini recipe. He’s crazy over anchovies! ; )

    Best of luck Anali!

    .-= Anali´s last blog ..Behind The Frosting: Red Thread =-.

  49. 05.16.2010

    Love the idea of menus all planned out in this cookbook. I definitely use a cookbook more if there are photos too. I grew up next door to one of my Calabrian grandmothers in the US, and smelling fresh baked bread or sauce on the stove from her garden produce are my favorite memories.
    Did I tell you that I’ve finally been accepted as an Italian citizen (dual citizenship) after 4 1/2 years of research and gathering documents?! So excited (both of my children too).

    That’s wonderful, Lenora! Auguri πŸ™‚

    .-= Lenora Boyle´s last blog ..Italy for the Gourmet Traveler =-.

  50. Tessa

    I LOVE ITALIAN FOOD TO THE MAX, IT’S MY FAVOURITE CUISINE. πŸ™‚ Winning this book will stop me from resorting to frozen lasagne all the time, i’m sure.

    Haha, good luck Tessa!

  51. Erica

    I could really use this book! It looks gorgeous!

    Good luck Erica!

  52. Lee Yin

    OOOOH l’aquila sounds like an awesome book.

    Best of luck!

  53. Marla

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

    Best of luck!

  54. Pam

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

    My pleasure Pam!

  55. 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 =-.

  56. 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!

  57. 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!

  58. Ann

    Oh! Looks so tasty!

    Thanks Ann, and good luck!

  59. 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… =-.

  60. Jill

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

    Good luck in the drawing, Jill!

  61. 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 πŸ™‚

  62. 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 =-.

  63. 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 =-.

  64. 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!

  65. Shanster

    Hey – thanks for commenting on my site… now I’ve found you and can follow you! πŸ™‚

    Well thanks for following me, Shanster! πŸ™‚

  66. 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 πŸ™‚

  67. 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!

  68. 05.20.2010

    Beautiful book. Beautiful crostini.

    Thanks Michele and good luck!

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

  69. 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 πŸ™‚

  70. 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!

  71. 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 πŸ™‚ Thanks for coming by!

  72. Jessica S.

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

    Thanks so much Jessica, and good luck!

  73. 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 πŸ˜€

  74. 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 πŸ˜€

  75. 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!

  1. [...] Best Crostini Recipe Ever + Cookbook Giveaway [...]...
  2. [...] it in Breaking Bread in L’Aquila – Abruzzo’s Zingy New Cookbook (Life In Abruzzo) and the Best...



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