Bruschetta, everyone loves it! It’s easy to make, tasty and delicious. It immediately brings to mind summer, lunches in the open air and barbecues with friends. For us Italians, bruschetta is synonymous with conviviality and cheerfulness in the name of taste and simplicity!
What is Bruschetta?
Bruschetta is a classic Italian antipasto (appetizer) made with toasted bread rubbed with garlic, topped with fresh tomatoes and basil, and drizzled with olive oil.
Bruschetta is not only one of the simplest Italian dishes, but also one of the oldest. In fact, according to some historical sources, it dates back to the Etruscans!
The secret to a perfect bruschetta is just one: use quality ingredients.
Choose well-ripened tomatoes, the right bread and an excellent extra virgin olive oil. Prefer day-old homemade bread or crusty Italian bread with a firm crumb.
Rub the bread with a clove of garlic, in fact an early version of bruschetta was just that, garlic, oil and salt, later on they added tomatoes.
How to Serve Bruschetta
You can make bruschetta for a tasty aperitif or serve it as an appetizer. We often prepare them during a barbecue to accompany the meat. On hot summer days, a tasty, fresh and flavorful bruschetta can be a real meal. Bruschetta is also a way not to waste leftover bread!
Whether served as an appetizer, light lunch or snack, bruschetta is a delicious way to enjoy the fresh flavors of Italy. This easy-to-make dish is perfect for entertaining guests or as a quick and satisfying meal.
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- Prep Time: 10 min
- Rest Time: 1 hour (optional)
- Cook Time: about 5 min (the time it takes to toast the bread slices)
PLEASE NOTE: We have assumed two bruschetta per person.
Of course, the amount depends on the size of the slice and especially on how you will use it. If you use it as an appetizer, an aperitif or as a side dish with grilled meat, 1 or 2 will be enough. If, on the other hand, you use it as a cool summer lunch, you can make as many as you like.
- 8 slices of bread
- 500 g (1,1 pound) of ripe tomatoes
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 10 basil leaves
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) of extra virgin olive oil
- fine salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)
How to Make Bruschetta: Directions
Step 1) – To make classic tomato bruschetta, wash and dry the tomatoes and basil leaves.
Then dice the tomatoes and remove the seeds if there are many.
Step 2) – Place the tomatoes in a bowl and add 3 or 4 basil leaves chopped with your hands. They will give off more of their fragrance this way.
Step 3) – Season the tomatoes with oil, salt and pepper (optional). Also add a peeled, skinless clove of garlic cut in half. Stir everything together.
At this point, it’s best to let the dressing sit for about an hour.
Cover with a cloth and let it sit at room temperature. Remember to remove the garlic clove before using the dressing.
PLEASE NOTE: Preparing the dressing ahead of time and marinating the tomatoes with the garlic, oil and basil will add even more flavor to the bruschetta. If you are pressed for time, you can use the dressing right away. Just let it sit for a few minutes, just long enough for the bread to toast!
Slice the Bread
Step 4) – Now cut the bread into fairly thick slices, about 1 cm (2/5 inch). If the loaf is large, cut the slices in half, otherwise leave them whole.
Step 5) – Place the bread slices in the drip pan. Bake with the grill function at 200°C (392°F). This will only take 5-6 minutes.
Alternatively, you can use a non-stick skillet or pan, without oil.
Be sure to flip the slices to ensure crispness on both sides. (For more information, read the paragraph below “How to toast Bread for Bruschetta”).
Step 6) – Once the bread is toasted and still warm, rub the clove of garlic on it (this is traditional, but if you don’t like the overpowering taste of garlic, you can skip this step).
Place a few spoonfuls of tomato and its dressing on each slice and garnish with basil leaves and another drizzle of oil.
PLEASE NOTE: We recommend that you season the bruschetta while it’s still hot and serve it immediately so that the bread does not absorb too much of the tomato’s juices and remains crisp to the bite.
How to Store Bruschetta
Ideally, you should consume the tomato bruschetta right away, hot and crispy.
You can certainly store the seasoned tomatoes for about 24 hours in the refrigerator and prepare the bruschetta just before serving.
It is recommended, however, that after so many hours in the refrigerator, you remove some of the excess liquid. This is because tomatoes in contact with salt for so long release a lot of water.
What’s the Best Oil for Bruschetta
When a recipe calls for the use of raw oil, as in salads or bruschetta, the choice can only be extra virgin olive oil (EVO), of which Italy is a huge producer.
But what is extra virgin olive oil and how does it differ from olive oil?
Extra virgin olive oil is obtained by pressing the fruit of the olive tree. This must be done using purely mechanical processes under conditions that do not cause any changes in the oil.
The attribute “virgin” indicates that the extraction process of the oil is based on mechanical and physical methods, without the use of solvents or chemicals.
In contrast, olive oil is obtained by refining virgin olive oil, using solvents or chemical additives, or by mixing virgin olive oil with refined olive oil.
EVO oil is a key ingredient in the preparation of bruschetta and is undoubtedly the protagonist, the precious element that unites and enhances all the bruschetta ingredients.
When the oil is of excellent quality, it’s good even on its own, on a slice of bread and a little salt!
What Bread to Use for Bruschetta
The ideal bread for bruschetta is durum wheat or rustic bread with a crisp crust. Better if the bread is from the day before.
The best choice is Apulian or Tuscan bread, cut into slices that are not too thin.
We don’t recommend soft wheat bread or white bread for sandwiches, as they are not suitable as a bread for bruschetta.
Bruschetta requires bread with a fairly firm crumb that can absorb the water of the tomatoes.
How to Toast Bread for Bruschetta
It’s important that the bread is toasted on the outside but remains soft on the inside. For this reason, the slices should be no less than 1 cm (2/5 inch) thick.
Toasting in the Oven
You can toast the bread in the oven with the grill function at 200°C (392°F) for 6 to 8 minutes, remembering to turn the slices halfway through baking. If you do not have the grill function, you can toast it in a static oven at 200°C for about 15 minutes.
Toasting on a Pan
You can also toast the bread on a hot non-stick pan or on a cast-iron skillet, but without adding oil.
Heat the pan very well and lay the bread slices on it. Toast them on both sides.
Toasting on Barbecue
The best bruschetta remains the one toasted on the barbecue grill, if you are lucky enough to have one available!
Which are the Best Tomatoes for Bruschetta?
All tomatoes are good for bruschetta! Cherry, grape, Datterino, San Marzano… the important thing is that they are ripe, tasty and of good quality!
Of course, tomatoes are at their best in the summer. The flavor of sun-ripened tomatoes cannot be compared to greenhouse tomatoes.
Let’s look at some of our best tomato qualities for making bruschetta:
Cherry tomatoes – The most famous of the cherry tomatoes is undoubtedly the Pachino Igp tomato, grown on the east coast of Sicily.
Grape tomatoes – The grape tomato is perhaps one of the most popular; it can be found in fruit and vegetable stores all year round. The tomato goes well with everything: pizza, bruschetta, salads, sauces.
San Marzano – The San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP tomato is an excellence, a true Italian pride, the most sought after in the world. It has a unique and inimitable taste.
Datterino – Datterino tomatoes are perfect for making sauces and salads, but especially for our very tasty bruschetta. They are rich in sugar and very flavorful.
Cuore di Bue – Typical of Sardinia and Liguria is the large Cuore di Bue. This tomato is large (it can reach 600 grams) and its name recalls its characteristic big, irregular shape. It has so much flesh, meaty and very tasty, that with just one tomato you can make bruschetta for several people!
Can I Leave Out the Garlic in Bruschetta?
Some people love garlic and some people can’t stand it. Its strong aroma and especially its use raw is indigestible for many people. But in the traditional bruschetta, garlic would be invaluable!
You can adjust the amount of garlic according to your taste. The tomato seasoning is already flavored with a clove of garlic, so you can also avoid rubbing it on the toasted bread slices.
Another suggestion for not overdoing the garlic is to only rub the clove along the edge of the slice and not over the entire surface.
In any case, you can decide not to use garlic at all and still have a delicious bruschetta!
Bruschetta Recipe: Some Variations
A slice of toasted bread, excellent extra virgin olive oil and tomato. As we said, this is the classic Italian bruschetta. Simple. And that is why it’s loved and popular all over Italy.
There are some variations to this recipe that add flavor without altering the simplicity of the recipe and always enhance the typical Mediterranean flavors.
Bruschetta alla Marinara
Many people season bruschetta al pomodoro with dried oregano instead of or in addition to basil. This results in Bruschetta alla Marinara.
Bruschetta with Tropea red onion.
It’s common to add some diced raw onion to the ingredients. The sweet and aromatic Tropea red onion is the best choice.
Just add a few cubes of mozzarella and you have a delicious Bruschetta Caprese.
Bruschetta with Olives
You can also add chopped olives and capers, typical Mediterranean ingredients that look great on tomato bruschetta.
If you like it spicy, you can add fresh or powdered chili peppers to the dressing.
Finally, for a tomato bruschetta with a seafood flavor, you can add tuna in oil or anchovy fillets to the dressing.
Origins of Bruschetta
Bruschetta is a very simple dish to make, yet it has all the basic flavors and products of Mediterranean cuisine.
Products that capture ancient flavors linked to the classical era, when the trading ships of the Roman Empire sailed the seas carrying oil, grain and wine.
Certainly the first bruschetta were slices of bread with only oil.
Much later, during the 16th century, after the discovery of America, they began to use tomatoes.
Bruschetta is a very old dish of peasant origin, born from the need to reuse stale bread and not waste it. And during the breaks from working the land, people used to put freshly picked tomatoes on slices of toasted bread.
The exact origins of bruschetta are uncertain.
Many historians think that bruschetta was born in an area between Tuscany and Lazio, for two reasons.
1) – First, because the name “bruschetta” comes from “bruscare”, which in an ancient Lazio dialect means “to toast or burn”. A clear reference to the way slices of bread are prepared.
2) – The second reason is the use of olive oil. The ancient and mysterious people of the Etruscans were the first to produce and use it. They obtained oil from the pressing of olives that they cultivated in an area located between Tuscany and Lazio.
Bruschetta in the Italian Territory
Bruschetta is widespread throughout Italy, and almost every region has a characteristic version and a particular name for it.
In Tuscany, for example, they call bruschetta “fettunta”. The meaning of this word is “greasy slice”. The bread used for this type of bruschetta is called “sciocco,” meaning without salt.
The ingredients to season it are few: extra virgin olive oil, salt, garlic and pepper. Fettunta is often used to accompany typical Tuscan meats and cold cuts.
In Campania they call bruschetta “pane arruscato,” or ” toasted and crispy bread,” and it consists of bruschetta in the classic version with tomato. They often add mozzarella cheese.
In Puglia for bruschetta they use the typical Apulian bread (famous is the one from Altamura), heated on the embers and seasoned with the exquisite local oil. The most classic preparation is often completed by the addition of the famous Brindisi tomatoes.
In Piedmont, bruschetta is often called “soma d’aj”. “Soma,” meaning the heavy load of donkeys, and “aj,” meaning “garlic.”
So you have to be very careful when tasting it, because you are dealing with a real “load of garlic”!
In Calabria they use to call bruschetta “fedda ruscia,” the literal translation of which is “toasted slice.” The ingredients typically used for its preparation are mainly tomatoes, salt, chili pepper and oil.