Who doesn't love the smell of warm bruschetta as it's pulled fresh from the oven? This traditional Italian appetizer, while simple, blends distinct flavors and textures in a way that delights many palates. Oven-toasted, sliced bread is topped with chopped fresh tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and herbs to create a crunchy, satisfying starter for any Italian or Mediterranean meal, or a tasty accompaniment to a glass of wine.
Probably the most important step in making bruschetta is selecting the ingredients. You'll want to choose the freshest bread available, perhaps a baguette. You will also want to select fresh, ripe tomatoes and herbs. (Check your local farmer's market or grocery store produce aisle for fresh herbs, or grow your own at home.) Add a quality olive oil, fresh garlic and seasonings, and you are on your way. The recipe is so simple that anyone can experiment with it, and tailor it according to their personal taste. Try a whole wheat baguette, or a loaf of sourdough, or substitute fresh oregano or rosemary for the basil. You might even try brushing olive oil on the bread and pre-toasting it, or roasting the garlic before mincing it. The possibilities are endless!
Here is the basic recipe:
5 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons quality olive oil
6-7 fresh basil leaves (and/or other fresh herbs), chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 fresh baguette or bread/ sliced on the diagonal into 1/2" slices
Mix all ingredients but the bread in a small bowl, and refrigerate for several (up to eight) hours. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet, and top with the tomato mixture. Bake at 450°F for 6 to 7 minutes, and serve warm.
Each of my articles are written with the sole purpose of making the cooking process easier for you. One thing that I fail to understand is that many of us do not have the luxury of having tons of cooking equipment around our kitchen area.
Bruschetta is the ultimate appetizer. It's easy to pick up and eat, you can generally use ingredients that you already have on hand, and who doesn't like bread and cheese? Here are a few ideas for some quick toppings and some creative variations.