A Maltese Beach Ftira with Tomato, Capers, Olives and Mint
by eat in my kitchen
Today I will share a sandwich with you that is as simple as it is perfect, Ftira mimlija – or filled, round Ftira bread. This sandwich doesn’t require many ingredients but the few you use must be of exceptional quality. All you need is an extraordinarily delicious loaf of white sourdough bread, finest quality extra virgin olive oil, ripe tomatoes, red onions, olives, capers and fresh mint and basil leaves. This is a Maltese classic which you can buy at every beach kiosk and bar in many variations, some of them are also made with tuna, anchovies, bell pepper, Gbejna (Maltese goat cheese) or coarse sausage. I prefer to keep it simple, that’s how my friend Essa makes them and that’s the recipe I will share with you, it’s my favourite! Every Maltese family has their own traditional recipe for this popular snack, so there isn’t only one way to prepare it.
Depending on the time I have for my sandwich preparations I choose between the stuffed Ftira or a quick beach version without a filling, the equally famous Hobz biz-Zejt u Tadam (bread with oil and tomatoes). When I only have a few minutes left before our friends ring at the door to pick us up to go to the beach, this is my choice! I cut the bread in half, dip it in a plate of olive oil, rub it with a cut, ripe tomato and sprinkle it with coarse sea salt and crushed pepper. When you close the bread and push it together, it will soak the fruity and oily juices until you take it out of your bag after a long swim in the sea. Delicious! Jenny (my Maltese Mama) prepares these for us sometimes and I’m always happy when she pulls this snack out of her cooling box!
I think it’s time for a quick introduction for those of you who don’t really have an idea of where I am at the moment. The islands of Malta lie 80 km (50 miles) south of Sicily in the Mediterranean sea. This tiny country is formed by the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino and a few smaller uninhabited rocks, it’s one of the smallest and most densely populated countries in the world. Its beautiful baroque capital is called Valletta which is a UNESCO World Heritage city. While we’re here, we live on the island Malta which is the largest of them all but still very small – only 28 x 13km / 17 x 8 miles!
Maltese Ftira Sandwich with Tomato, Capers, Olives and Mint
For 2 Ftiras Sandwiches you need
Ftira, 2 quarters or 2 sourdough buns
big tomatoes, chopped, 2
capers, rinsed and dried, 1-2 teaspoons
small red onion, chopped, 1-2 teaspoons
black olives, chopped, 6
big basil leaves 6
small mint leaves 6
olive oil 4-8 tablespoons
salt and pepper
Sprinkle each slice of the Ftira or bun with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and put the tomatoes, capers, onion, olives and herbs on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste and close the sandwich, enjoy!