Lay out a bruschetta spread with bowls of toppings and piles of grilled bread and let your guests help themselves. This bruschetta with three different toppings will take you less than 15 minutes to put together. And did you know that the the grilled bread for bruschetta is actually best made ahead? So convenient for entertaining!
There are endless bruschetta recipes “out there”. Google “bruschetta recipes” and you’ll be returned with 19.4 million hits. And I’m betting that 98% of them aren’t authentic Italian ones! I don’t judge – I am all for putting your own spin on things, doing modern / western / fusion versions of traditional recipes. And I’ve eaten and made my fair share of non-authentic bruschetta (eg. ricotta with grilled peach drizzled with honey…oh my!). But you can’t beat the real deal, the way it’s made in Italy.
Today I’m sharing three bruschetta recipes, all done properly, learnt from reading cookbooks of Italian masters like Stefano Manfredi and Lidia Bastianich. Nothing fancy about them, just bruschetta done the way Italian Mamas make them every day. This spread will take you less than 15 minutes to put together. Truly, I timed it from start to finish (excluding the time I spent faffing around styling the food to photograph it).
1. Tomato and Basil (click for recipe) – by far the most well known topping, the key is to use juicy, ripe tomatoes. The proper Italian way to make the tomato and basil topping is to serve it just seasoned with salt and pepper with plenty of extra virgin olive oil. No garlic, no lemon, no red wine vinegar. The garlic flavour comes from rubbing the bread with garlic. This is real Italian Tomato and Basil Bruschetta.
2. Celery and Lime (click for recipe) – a unique topping, but I promise you, even celery haters will be converted once they try this. Pureed with lime, garlic, salt, pepper and plenty of extra virgin olive oil, this is incredibly light and fresh and doesn’t have that slight grassy flavour of raw celery that is off-putting for some people. The combination of celery and lime is a revelation.
3. Cannellini Beans with Lemon (click for recipe) – another topping that is not as well known but is as Italian as they come. It takes 2 minutes to make – you simply mash canned cannellini beans (any white beans will work), lemon rind and juice and a splash of olive oil. So creamy. SO GOOD.
To make a great bruschetta, there are 3 rules:
1. Use a great crusty bread – Proper bruschetta is made with slightly stale bread that is grilled over charcoal, preferably ciabatta or a crusty sourdough. The bread needs to toast well so it is crunchy but won’t disintegrate when you bite into it. I read a great tip somewhere to grill the bread the day before then leave it, uncovered, to let it become stale overnight then to reheat them in the oven just prior to serving. This is so convenient for feeding a crowd and makes the bread fantastically crunchy.
2. Rub the bread with garlic – It was a revelation to discover this tip that Italians have been doing for centuries. No more furious mixing of butter with minced garlic! Just lightly rub the toasted bread with a piece of garlic and be enthralled by how good it tastes when topped with a juicy fresh topping.
3. Fresh produce – it goes without saying so I’ll keep this short and sweet: crappy tomatoes =
crappy mediocre bruschetta. (PS Still edible. But it just ain’t the same. Just sayin’). Sorry, no way around it. Same goes with any other bruschetta topping made with fresh produce.
Oh wait, I have one more rule:
4. Be generous with the Olive Oil and Seasoning. Now is not the time to count calories. Bruschetta with a teeny drizzle of olive oil is like a sausage roll with a drop of tomato sauce. Just sad. And salt brings out the sweetness of tomatoes as well as drawing out the juice so it can transform an ordinary tomato into a good tomato, and a great tomato into a stellar tomato!
Here are the recipes. I ended up posting them separately to make it easier to find them later.
Hope you enjoy them! They are so incredibly fast to make – each of the toppings only take a few minutes. They are great entertaining staples!