Bruschetta is basically a toasted italian bread. These toasts were originally used to dip into the new season’s olive oil, to taste the oil and make sure it was good. Eventually they made their way into restaurants, and now you can find them served in many places. Why not try making your own?
The best thing about bruschetta is that you can top it with so many different things… tomatoes, onions, cream cheese spreads, salmon, pate, slices of deli meats and cheeses, etc. etc. etc. – you are pretty much limited only by your imagination.
bruschetta made with chopped tomatoes, pancetta (kind of like an Italian bacon or ham), basil, and grated cheese
photo by Vincent Ma
Below are some recipes for bruschetta:
Bruschetta is traditionally made over a fire, so this is a good recipe for making appetizers at your next barbecue. They can be made indoors under the broiler, but they really do taste better when made outdoors on the grill.
To make basic bruschetta toasts, cut a loaf of French or Italian bread into slices around 3/4 inch thick. Bruschetta is generally a fairly good sized slice, around 3 – 4 inches long, good for two or three nice bites. However, it can be a bit smaller…these are sometimes known as crostini.
Toast your bread on both sides lightly over the fire…you want them just barely golden and still fairly soft, not hard. While the bread is still warm, take a garlic clove and cut it in two, and lightly crush it – not hard, but just enough to get a bit of the juice and fragrance out of it. Then rub one side of each toasted slice of bread with the cut side of the garlic clove – you don’t want to get a big mass of garlic on your bread, but to give it a bit of the flavor and aroma of the garlic.
Then place your slices of bread on a platter with the garlicky side up, and lightly drizzle each slice with around a teaspoon or so of a high quality olive oil. Try to use the Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
You can eat your bruschetta as it is, or add your choice of toppings. However, keep in mind that the toppings should garnish the bread, not overwhelm it. Don’t pile it on as if making a sandwich. You still want to be able to enjoy the bread itself – that’s the main part of this dish!
Bruschetta is often served with a glass of red wine.
Here are some ideas of toppings:
A mix of chopped vegetables – tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, olives..along with chopped parsley, basil, oregano, and garlic…with a splash of lemon juice or vinegar, and a bit of olive oil.
A roasted pepper salad – cut a bell pepper in half and remove the seeds, then pop both halves on the grill and let them roast until soft, then cut into thin strips. Take a small tomato and cut it in half and remove the seeds, then slice it into thin strips also. Take half of a small red onion and slice it into thin strips – you may not need all of it. Finely chop a clove of garlic. Mix all of this with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Top each slice of bruschetta with a spoonful of the pepper/tomato/onion salad, and serve it right away, before the toast gets too soggy.
A braised red onion salad – dice up two ounces of pancetta and cook in a skillet with two tablespoons of olive oil until just lightly crisp, about three minutes. Add one pound of thinly sliced red onions, two cloves of chopped garlic, one teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme, one teaspoon of red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover the skillet and allow everything to cook over medium heat until the onions are soft and sweet, about fifteen minutes. Stir occasionally so the onions don’t burn. Remove from the heat, let cool for about five minutes, and then stir in one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Top each bruschetta with a spoonful or two of the onion mixture, and sprinkle with a bit of fresh chopped parsley.
Any way that you top it, bruschetta is good eats, and a good way to celebrate the Summer Solstice!
tomato bruschetta with a caesar salad
photo by i.say