Bruschetta is no stranger to any Italian food lover. It is one of the most common items in every Italian restaurant’s menu. The dish may only call for a few ingredients, but don’t let its looks fool you. Simplicity is what makes it complex.
What Is Traditional Bruschetta?
Bruschetta /broo-‛sket-ta/ is a starter dish that originated in Italy. The base of a bruschetta is a slice of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and doused in olive oil. To make the dish more wholesome, a variety of toppings such as vegetables, cured meat, and cheese is put on the bread.
As every region in Italy has their own take on bruschetta, it is impossible to identify which version is the most authentic. For example, in Tuscany, bruschetta is known as ‘fettunta’. Fettunta is made with Tuscan bread, or ‘pane toscano’, with just extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. It can also be paired with meat like salami or prosciutto.
In Piedmont, they have another version of bruschetta, called ‘soma d’aj’. The word ‘aj’ is a local dialect for ‘aglio’, or garlic, thus indicating that the dish is loaded with garlic. Meanwhile, a Neapolitan bruschetta would have some good quality tomatoes on it. These tomatoes are diced into small pieces and seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil, and some kind of herb like basil or oregano.
Origin aside, it is indisputable that bruschetta makes an amazing appetizer to any meal. So when you’re having your next dinner party, you should add it to your menu and impress your guests. I also have some healthy dinner ideas for your reference; check them out and see if you find anything interesting.
What Kind Of Bread Is Used For Bruschetta?
The key to a good bruschetta lies in the bread. Considering its origin, it can only be fair to use a type of rustic Italian bread to make bruschetta. There might be dozens of different kinds of Italian bread, but ciabatta is the one that stands out in the crowd. A loaf of whole wheat ciabatta with a thick crust and chewy texture is the rightful candidate for any type of sandwich, including an open-faced sandwich and toast.
However, if you can’t find ciabatta in your area, look for sourdough bread as an alternative. Or just get the best quality French baguette available. And remember, no matter what bread you use, it has to be one-day-old bread. Stale bread tends to be drier so when you grill it, it will soak up more olive oil and become more flavorful.
Traditionally, the bread is toasted with a brustolina grill. If you have one in hand, perfect! Otherwise just use a grill pan, a skillet, a pan, a toaster or anything available in your kitchen. Another way to amplify the flavor of your bruschetta is to grill the bread over charcoal. This will give the bread a nice hint of smokiness and beautifully charred surface.
After grilling, rub garlic on the bread and douse it in the best extra-virgin olive oil you can afford. Now what’s left is to put on all of the toppings your heart desires, like cheese, tomatoes and/or herbs.
What Cheese Is Best For Bruschetta?
The answer to this question is as hard to find as it is to find the best cheese for a pizza, because there is no such thing! That being said though, only Italian cheeses are the best fit for this Italian classic.
From soft fresh cheese like mozzarella, burrata, and ricotta, to months-old cheese like provolone, pecorino, and parmigiano reggiano, the possibilities are endless! So just start off with your favorite kind of Italian cheese and then experiment with the others as you go. Keep in mind that the cheese and other toppings on your bruschetta should complement each other, otherwise you risk having one ingredient overpowering the rest.
You can opt for a dairy-free bruschetta and leave out the cheese like today’s recipe. Yes, you heard it. Dairy-free vegan-friendly bruschetta. But don’t worry, it will still taste just as good. Cheese or no cheese, bruschetta is like an open-faced sandwich. And there is no real recipe to a sandwich, which means it can’t go wrong, right?
Right! Time to hit the kitchen!
Tomato Bruschetta Recipe
For the bread:
- 3 oz French baguette 1/2 medium
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
For the toppings:
- 16 oz ripe tomatoes 3 medium
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic 1 clove, finely minced
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 4 fresh basil leaves thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- In a large pot, add 2 quarts of water and bring it to boil.
- Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes by making long shallow cuts on them.Start from the bottom end of a tomato, make a shallow incision, then rotate the tomato to make cuts along the sides. Turn back to the bottom of the tomato and make another cut across the previous one. Do the same for the rest of the tomatoes.
- When the water has reached a rolling boil, put the tomatoes into the pot. After 30 seconds, turn off the heat. Let the tomatoes sit in the hot bath for another 30 seconds before taking them out with a slotted spoon. Let them cool down before peeling off the skin.
- Cut the tomatoes into quarters, remove the seeds, squeeze out their juices, dice them and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- In a large bowl, mix together diced tomatoes, minced garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper. Remember to taste and add more salt if needed.
- Using a serrated knife, cut the baguette diagonally to make slices about half an inch thick. Drizzle olive oil on one side of each slice. Put the slices onto a baking tray, oil side down.
- Put the baking tray on the top rack of the oven and back for 5 minutes or until browned.
- To serve, scoop spoonfuls of the tomato mixture and put them on top of each bread slice on the oiled side. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.
- Keep in mind that the longer the bruschetta sits, the more juices from the tomato will be soaked into the bread. Therefore only arrange the bruschetta just before you serve them.
- If you’re throwing a party, you can have the bread and the tomato separately and let your guests fix their own bruschetta.