Super Quick & Tasty Italian Bruschetta
Updated: Feb 20
You've got friends coming over for dinner, you're making an elaborate main and you don't want to go overboard with the starter, you want something you can prep ahead of time and then assemble after your guests arrive without disappearing to the kitchen for an hour. The answer you're looking for is Bruschetta.
Visually stunning, super fresh, classical combinations that just about any grade of cook could put together without drama, Bruschetta is an easy dish that is a crowd pleaser at a dinner party right down to a simple snack for a romantic breakfast.
Super easy, super versatile, all you really need is some good bread, olive oil, garlic and tomatoes for the most basic recipe and then it's pretty much no rules after that as long as you keep it Italian-ish, "Forget about it!"
If you've never had Bruschetta I guess it would be best described as a fresher, cleaner, cold version of pizza. It shares most of the base ingredients and is made with different toppings to meet the mood or the taste of the consumer. The toppings go on to a piece of toasted bread that has been rubbed with garlic and brushed with olive oil.
Dating back to Ancient Rome, olive growers brought their harvest to the olive pressing facility to extract the oil. Once the oil was made, the farmers would pour a little of their olive oil on some bread to share and show off the quality of their produce. The word Bruschetta translates in modern Italian to "Toast" which arguably means the recipe is actually only about the toasted bread and olive oil, the remainder of the ingredients must have been an evolution over time.
I like to keep it fairly traditional an quintessentially Italian. Much like our Traditional Marinara Sauce, we like to let a few basic ingredients do the talking by coming together in a symphony of mouth watering goodness. I can literally taste it.
So without further ado:
A loaf of your favourite kind of crusty bread (I personally love it with Ciabatta)
200g Your favourite baby tomatoes (I buy Roma/Rosalini/Bella tomatoes in red, yellow and orange for great flavour and great appearance)
4 Cloves of fresh garlic (For some reason, Organic Garlic here tastes noticeably better)
A bunch of Fresh Basil Leaves (at least 16)
1 Small red onion
Good quality Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper Grinders
Optional - 1/2 Red Chilli, seeds removed (up to Jalapeno hot will be fine unless you like it super spicy)
Recipe - Serves four as a starter
Turn your oven on to 180c/350f to warm up
Slice your bread into 4cm / 1,5 inch thick slices. This is your chance to be creative and cheffy so cut the bread on an angle to get a nice bistro look
Place the bread slices on a metal baking tray (2 each is More than enough as a starter, even consider serving together on a platter for people to serve themselves so the hungry can have two and everyone else can stick at one)
Drizzle the bread with a little oil making sure each one gets a few decent drops. Don't be shy but don't soak it.
Pop the bread into the oven to toast up, for about 5 minutes but keep an eye on them, especially if you don't have a backup loaf. Golden is good, black is bad!
Once golden, chop each of your (peeled) garlic clove in half and rub one half each piece of bread using it to bread out any remaining oil evenly. You can add a little more oil first if they look a little dry. Do not throw away the garlic
Finely chop the onion and add to a bowl with a dash of olive oil and a twist of salt and pepper
Chop the tomatoes into 4 and add to the bowl with the onion
Chop half the basil leaves and add to the bowl (retain at least 8 leaves)
Chop 4 of your garlic clove halves finely and add to the bowl. Add the remainder if you really love garlic
If you do want to use chilli, finely chop now and add to the bowl.
Season the bowl with salt and pepper and stir the ingredients together well.
Put the bowl in the fridge for at least 30 minutes for the flavours to develop
Take your bowl out of the fridge, stir well taste and correct the seasoning
If there's excessive liquid int he bowl, drai some off and add back a little olive oil and stir
Spoon your mixture equally on top of the toasted bread slices
Add at least one Basil Leaf to the centre of each Bruschetta
Tear your mozzarella into at least 8 pieces and lay on top of your Basil Leaf
Optionally, for a slightly more fruity note, drizzle over a little balsamic vinegar or glaze
Now serve immediately so the bread doesn't go soggy or pop under a hot grill for a minute or two to melt the mozzarella for a hot starter. We recommend cold for summer days outside and hot for cold dark nights indoors. Serve with your favourite wine.
Tips & Tricks
This recipe goes really well with smashed (partially mashed) beans or peas and balsamic vinegar
If your guests are serious carnivores, add some Parma Ham, Bresaola or some crispy fried Pancetta
The cheese is optional but it matters, if you can only get the rubbery dry Mozzarella, don't bother and use a little grated Parmigiano Reggiano or even a little Feta cheese works well but be careful with the salt if you use Feta.
The combinations are endless but as well as the classic recipe above, we love:
Tomato, Chorizo and Scallop
Smashed Pea, Ham and Bacon
Garlic Mushroom & Parmesan Cheese
For a Mexican twist, use the chilli and swap the Basil for Coriander/Cilantro and you have a Pico di Gallo or use a bit of Guacamole or smashed avocado for a breakfast Bruschetta
Technically called Crostini, make these in smaller versions and they make great Canapes. For a super quick version for this purpose, use Melba Toast if you can find it.
Don't be afraid to try different combinations, as we said at the start, as long s you have the toasted bread rubbed with the Olive Oil and Garlic, it's already Bruschetta
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