Pronounced: bru-skay-tah (pl. Bruschette)
What could be better to go with your aperitivi than a piece of humble Bruschetta? Everyone has heard of it, most people have had it, but, outside Italy just how authentic is it? It is cheap and easy to make, and, properly made is tasty and very impressive.
Originally bruschette consisted only of grilled bread which had been rubbed with oil and garlic and then topped with more olive oil and salt. It is believed that it originates from ancient Rome and was a way of tasting the annual crop of freshly pressed olive oil. The slices of bread were traditionally cooked over an open fire so ideally, these days, they should be toasted over a BBQ. This isn't always convenient so as an alternative either toast them using a griddle pan or just bake them in a hot oven.
This is a popular Italian appetizer and, as with all Italian food, should be kept very simple. The most common way of serving brushette in Italy, particularly in the south, is just with chopped, fresh tomatoes, virgin olive oil and a little salt. Other toppings, such as mushrooms, peppers and roasted vegetables can be used but the tomatoes require no cooking and have a particular fresh taste that is so reminiscent of warm, sultry evenings in Italy.
Bruschette are straightforward enough to make either for two people as a starter or for dozens of people at a party.
For 4 slices you will need:
- 4 slices ciabatta or French bread, cut to about 1 cm thick
- Clove of garlic, cut in half
- 100g firm, fresh, ripe tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus extra for the bread
- First prepare the tomatoes by cutting them up into very small pieces with a sharp knife, taking care not to crush or squash them. Add the olive oil and a little salt.
- Using a pastry brush, coat both sides of the bread slices in olive oil. Toast lightly on both sides either over a BBQ, a griddle or in a very hot oven. Remove from the heat; rub both sides with the garlic clove and return to the heat for a few minutes. Place on a serving plate and spoon the tomatoes on top of each slice.
- If you have lots of guests you can prepare all the tomatoes first and then toast the bread and add the topping in batches.
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