Our tour guests frequently mistake the biscuits displayed in the cases at Addeo Bakers for stale rolls and bagels. Called either freselle or pane biscottato, they are not stale as they might appear, but twice baked. Thomas Addeo, one of the third generation owners and bakers, likes to explain that these are what his grandmother used to make bruschetta. His father would start his day by dipping a small whole wheat biscuit into his morning coffee.
High quality, well-made bread goes stale quickly, but freselle, only fifty cents a piece, can live in your cupboards for months. Simply hold the biscuit under running water for 2-3 seconds, then pile a chopped tomato salad on top. The oil and juice from the tomatoes will seep into the biscuit, softening it just enough to let your teeth sink in easily.
Freselle are ideal for a quick lunch or light dinner. If you’re hosting a summer party, lay them out on a table for guests. The longer they rest, the softer the biscuit will become. You could also place freselle in the bottom of a bowl of soup like a giant crouton. The lard and pepper freselle are ideal for seafood stews.
Now that the height of tomato season is here, here's a very simple tomato salad recipe from Arthur Schwartz's "The Southern Italian Table" cookbook. Pile it on to the freselle for an easy, healthy summer meal.
About 2 pounds ripe salad tomatoes, cut into 1/2-to 1-inch chunks (about 4 cups)
1 garlic clove, slightly smashed or cut in half lengthwise, or minced and sliced
6-8 leaves fresh basil or mint, torn or coursely chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt, ore more to taste
Several twists of the peppermill
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or slightly more
Put the tomatoes in a serving bowl. Add the garlic, herb, salt, pepper and olive oil. toss well. Let stand a few minutes before serving.