The Joy of Bruschetta


Does everyone love bruschetta because everyone loves a good sandwich? Bruschetta, basically is an open faced version and, yet another delicious example of Italian ingenuity and cucina povera. Just look at the ingredients… some bread, a little seasonal veg for the topping and a drizzle of a good quality extra virgin olive oil – all combine to make a very popular antipasto. Keep in mind, even though the ingredients may be humble, if they’re seasonal and local you will always have excellent results.

Bruschetta always makes me think of summer and of al fresco dining in Italy. Juicy, delicious, vine ripened tomatoes for bruschetta con pomodori. YUM. The grilled bread, a whisper of garlic, good olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Yes, indeed. Simple is usually best.

While the array of toppings is limitless, from tomatoes, mushrooms, pesto, cannellini beans, fava beans, artichokes… you can either make a chunky topping, as for the pomodori/tomato version or use a thick sauce such as pesto. To use beans, cook and mash them with a fork – fresh favas with some garlic and olive oil are not only delicious but make a fabulous display of green, while pairing the cannellini with some fresh rosemary and olive oil will make an outstandingly, delicious combination. For something a little saucy… sauté some mushrooms, add a little cream and reduce, for a decadent earthy version of bruschetta.

While the toppings can certainly vary, the bread used must follow certain guidelines. Hearty Italian, per favore – Calabrese bread being a favourite. I prefer to buy it unsliced; the bread stays fresher a bit longer and you can cut the slices exactly how thick you want them. I recommend about a half an inch, cut with a serrated knife – to not crush the bread! FYI, use the same knife for cutting the fresh tomatoes!!

 

This slice can be cut into two or even three pieces – with a hearty bread, it will not disintegrate

Sadly, most of us will not have a wood burning fire to grill the bread, so use a BBQ or a grill pan on your stove. I sprinkled this slice with a little olive oil… I didn’t have the pan hot enough and it was taking too long (I was not making Melba toast!) Usually the oil is added at the very end…

Bruschetta con Pomodori. Essence of summer. Mind the sprinkle of salt & pepper to finish!

 Grow your own if you can!!
 

Can you tell this version is one of my favourites?

The Pesto version will always bring back memories of visiting the Cinque Terre in Italy.
 
 
Whichever version you decide to make, just remember these few guidelines:
 
1. Use hearty Italian bread for the base
2. Grill the bread and while it’s still warm, rub it lightly with a cut clove of garlic to give it a whisper of garlic taste.
3. Add fresh seasonal toppings – use your favourite veg or try something new.
4. Drizzle with a good extra virgin olive oil.
5. Use a flavourful salt and freshly ground pepper to garnish.

Oh, and you don’t have to just take my word for it. In July’s issue of Bon Appetit, Editor in Chief Adam Rapaport waxed poetic about a version he made with avocado! Buon appetito~

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