12 slices Italian bread, cut 1/2-inch thick 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, halved, seeded, and chopped 1/3 cup slivered fresh basil, plus sprigs for garnish 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, preferably fresh, sliced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in oven 3 to 5 minutes, until pale golden on top. Turn and toast 3 to 4 minutes, until second side is pale golden.
In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, basil, garlic, oil, vinegar, salt, and hot pepper. Toss to mix well.
Place 3 toast pieces on each individual serving plate. Spoon tomatoes and juice over bread and arrange cheese slices on top. Garnish with sprigs of fresh basil.