[Edited by Danette St. Onge on April 30, 2016.]
Bruschetta is one of the simplest and quickest things in the world to make, yet it can be fantastically delicious if you use high-quality ingredients.
There are many different varieties of bruschetta, though sometimes they might be called crostini or crostoni instead (crostini being small versions made from cross-sections of a baguette and crostoni being very large slices).
But the most well-known version is simply grilled slices of bread, rubbed with raw garlic and topped with chopped tomatoes, fresh basil, and salt.
The ideal is to grill the slices on a charcoal grill, so these would be a great starter for any summer cookout or barbecue. A rosato (rosé) or a lambrusco would be a great wine pairing with this summery treat.
[Note that the correct way to pronounce it is: brew-SKEH-tah, rather than brew-SHEH-duh.]
- 4 tbsp. olive oil (high-quality extra-virgin, try to find a nice fruity one)
- 2-3 tomatoes (very ripe and flavorful, or you can use cherry tomatoes, chopped)
- 4 slices of Tuscan bread (cut 6-inch-wide, or any other rustic Italian loaf)
- 1 clove garlic (sliced in half)
- Garnish: salt (coarse, flaky Maldon salt works really well for this)
- Garnish: basil leaves (fresh, chopped)
- Marinate the chopped tomatoes in some of the extra-virgin olive oil for about 10 minutes.
- Toast the bread slices on a charcoal grill until golden-brown and lightly marked with grill lines. (You can also toast them in an oven or toaster if grilling is not possible).
- Then gently rub the grilled slices of bread with the cut end of a raw garlic clove that you have sliced in half.
- Top each slice with the marinated tomatoes and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt and chopped fresh basil leaves. Add a light drizzle of a bit more of the extra-virgin olive oil, if desired.
- Cut each slice in half and serve immediately.
If you omit the tomatoes and basil and just drizzle the garlic-rubbed toasted slices with extra-virgin olive oil, you have what is called fettunta (literally, "oily slice") in Tuscany, or the Italian version of garlic bread.
Romans top their bruschetta with anchovies and fresh mozzarella.
Sicilians might use fresh oregano instead of fresh basil.
Another Tuscan favorite is white cannellini beans on top of the bruschetta instead of tomatoes, topped with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.
A winter version of Tuscan-style bruschetta uses boiled dinosaur (also known as Tuscan or lacinato) kale (cavolo nero). Here's a recipe for kale bruschetta.