In my last post I shared a moment making Bruschetta with over 70 teenagers at Culver City High School and now I’ve included that recipe, as it’s one of my favorite appetizers to make.
Bruschetta refers to garlic rubbed bread that is grilled and lightly drizzled with olive oil. It does NOT refer to the topping you place on the grilled bread, as some American producers of “bruschetta” will make you believe with their products.
The word bruschetta is derived from “bruscare” which means to “roast over coals.” True bruschetta is grilled, because the act of grilling creates a satisfying, crispy outside and those aesthetically pleasing black grill lines. Bruschetta originates from Tuscan cooking, which celebrates hearty breads and the art of grilling, which I’ve experienced at it’s best while eating a “Bistecca alla Fiorentina” in Florence, Italy.
As a matter of what bread to use, the most true bruschetta uses a Tuscan loaf, which is a dense, crusty bread. A sour dough or Ciabatta will work as. A baguette produces slices that are a little small for true bruschetta, and would be better as a “crostini.”
Difference between Crostini and Bruschetta
Crostini meants “little toasts” and refers to an Italian appetizer that has small pieces of toasted bread, about 2”-3” in diameter, that are topped with a spread, like one made of fava beans or olive paste. Most restaurants will use crostini and bruschetta interchangeably, but just know that crostini are smaller bites, while burschetta are larger slices of bread that accommodate chunkier toppings like a tomato-basil salad.
For grilling the bread, I recommend firing up a grill, or using a cast-iron skillet with grill ridges. You’ll get a nice grill mark without all the prep and cleanup of a grill.
Now as for the bruschetta recipe itself, I’ve included my favorite recipe below. I’ve made this with hundreds of students and it’s a great appetizer for dinner or a party.
Active Time: 20 min – Start to Finish: 20 min – Serves 8
3 medium tomatoes, about 1 lb.
5 basil leaves
1 loaf of Tuscan bread, ciabatta, sour dough or baguette sliced into ¼” thick slices
1 garlic clove, cut in half
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
To Grill the Bread: Heat a grill or a cast-iron grill skillet over medium heat. Grill one side of each slice for 1-2 minutes until grill marks form. Remove from the grill and lightly rub each piece with the inside half of the raw garlic clove. (Do not overrub, otherwise it will be too garlicky). Drizzle with olive oil and add a small sprinkle of salt.
To Roast the Bread: Preheat an oven to 425ºF with a rack at the top. Lay the bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 2-4 minutes, watching closely so it’s not overcooked. Remove from the oven and lightly rub each slice with the inside half of the raw garlic clove
To Make the Tomato-Basil Topping: Chop tomatoes into chunky pieces and place in a large bowl. Add basil torn up with your hands. Add 2 Tbs of olive oil, 1 Tbs of vinegar, a big pinch of salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Taste your salad and adjust seasoning as needed. Add the tomato-basil on top of the bruschetta and serve warm.
Chef Eric’s Tip: To make “Caprese Bruschetta” add a slice of mozzarella on top of your bruschetta followed by the tomato-basil salad.