Bruschetta: A Classic Italian Recipe

Bruschetta is the original garlic bread and an easy first course for a memorable Italian meal. One of the reasons to love Italian cuisine is the simplicity of many of its recipes. Traditional Italian cooking concentrates on fresh seasonal ingredients prepared simply to bring out the true flavors. For bruschetta that means good quality Italian bread, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh and juicy garlic cloves and appetizing toppings.

In Tuscany, the home of bruschetta, the bread and the olive oil are paramount. So look for an Italian loaf that has a crunchy, dark-brown crust and a good texture that will hold up on the grill. And find a good extra-virgin olive oil that has a pleasant flavor, color and aroma. Many gourmet supermarkets will let you sample their olive oils. This is the best way to find one you like.

How to Make Bruschetta
Over a hot charcoal fire, grill thick slices of Italian bread. When toasted on both sides, rub the bruschetta with a cut clove of fresh garlic, drizzle on extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt or Kosher salt and serve. When tomatoes are in season, you can finely chop them with fresh, torn basil leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper and use them to top the grilled garlic bread. You can also grill the bread on a gas grill or toast it in the oven or under the broiler, but the flavor over charcoal is the best.

Although bruschetta is best as a first course served simply with Italian olives and wine, you can definitely make a meal out of it as they often do in Tuscany. Try it as a light lunch or supper with a glass of red wine and a simple salad.

Classic Tuscan Bruschetta
Serves 4 as a first course or 2 as an entrée.

  • 4 thick slices of Tuscan-style bread
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt, Kosher or sea salt

Favorite Bruschetta Toppings

  • Tapenade or rough chopped Mediterranean olives with garlic, lemon, capers and anchovy paste
  • Marinated artichoke hearts
  • Thin slivers of Parmigiano Romano
  • Sautéed wild mushrooms
  • Porcini mushrooms (in season) with lemon juice and truffle oil
  • Cannellini bean dip
  • Mascarpone and figs (in season), topped with a thin slice of prosciutto
  • Small cocktail shrimp sautéed with garlic, olive oil, lemon and capers
  • Goat cheese and roasted red peppers
  • Pesto
  • Hot Italian peppers with feta cheese
  • Grilled eggplant, goat cheese and basil oil

Grill the bread lightly over a hot charcoal grill, making sure both sides are equally toasted. Remove the bread from the grill and quickly rub a large garlic clove over the bread. The garlic will melt into the hot bread. Plate the bread and drizzle the olive oil over the bread. Sprinkle lightly with salt. At this point it's ready to serve or top with one or several bruschetta toppings.

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