Bruschetta is one of those dishes that sounds complicated but in reality is a cinch to make. The name is technically used for crisped bread rubbed with garlic, but most of us know bruschetta as a savory, herb-licious tomato topping that sits above crostini. And there’s another, similar term, as crostini is simply bread that has been crisped in an oven or under a broiler.
If you have the grill going, there’s no reason not to create your crostinis over the fire or coals. When making them indoors, I prefer to brown the bread under a broiler in the oven. If you’re watching your carb intake or can’t do gluten, you can substitute the bread entirely for a piece sturdy lettuce such as romaine, making what I dub bruschetta boats.
Bruschetta is a perfect appetizer any time of year, but really shines in summer when tomatoes are cheap, plentiful and – most important – in season. I prefer Roma tomatoes because their thick flesh and relative lack of seeds, which are to be scooped out anyway for this recipe.
When making this delicious snack, the traditional method is to rub the bread with a clove of garlic, which will give the crostini a garlicky essence. I like to liven up my bruschetta by also using those garlic cloves in the tomato mixture itself, along with a touch of oregano to complement the traditional basil. If you’d like a little kick, sprinkle in some crushed red pepper. Finally, I add a bit of olive oil to provide flavor and mouth feel, and to protect the bread from getting soggy too quickly.
Bruschetta is best made and served immediately. Luckily, it all comes together so fast that you’ll be enjoying this light dish before you know it. Here’s how to make bruschetta.
(Makes 6-8 servings)
- 1 baguette or French roll
- 5 Roma tomatoes, washed thoroughly
- 1/3 cup fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic
Step 1. Turn on your broiler or heat your grill, then cut the baguette or French roll into thin pieces on a bias.
Step 2. Halve the tomatoes, scoop out the seed and middle part, then dice them into small chunks. Slice the basil leaves into thin strips, and combine them in a bowl with the olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper.
Step 3. When your oven or grill is heated, toast the bread on a sheet pan in the oven or directly over the fire on a grill until the pieces are crisp and lightly browned. If you’re substituting lettuce for bread, you’ll obviously skip this.
Step 4. When the bread is done, rub the browned side with a clove of garlic.
Step 5. Chop the garlic into fine pieces or run through a press. Add to the tomato mixture and toss well to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Step 6. Load each piece of bread (or lettuce) with the tomato mixture and serve immediately to your happy guests.
Congratulations: You’ve just made bruschetta. Enjoy this as an appetizer or serve as part of a light lunch with salad or soup, basking in the knowledge that you’ve made a banging’ good bite in about 20 minutes.