Bruschetta Recipe

Bruschetta

I remember very well the first bruschetta I ever had, served at the San Francisco vegetarian restaurant “Herbivore”. We had arrived in the US about two months before, it was the night of my 21st birthday, we were with our friend Jérémie, and after dinner we went to see Arling & Cameron play. The barman wouldn’t give me a free drink even considering the occasion, but we had the artists sign their album’s poster for me, which sure made up for it. A very good birthday night indeed.

We enjoyed bruschetta so much that we kept ordering it whenever the occasion arose. But as much as bruschetta is a common appetizer in Californian restaurants, I have very rarely seen it served in France, so I had been in bruschetta withdrawal for quite a while.

The other night, I was coming home from work on the bus, wondering what to make for dinner, like a good 80% of my fellow passengers I’m sure. I was mentally probing the contents of our fridge and pantry, when the happy thought dawned on me that I had all the ingredients to make bruschetta. Or my version of it, at least.

Bruschetta

– a 30 cm (12”) section of baguette
– two large tomatoes
– one small onion
– a handful of fresh basil
– three cloves of garlic
– 1/3 C grated or crumbled cheese (I used parmesan on half the pieces, and a herbed sheep’s milk cheese on the other)
– olive oil
– salt, pepper, piment d’espelette (substitute red pepper flakes)

(Serves 2.)

Halve the tomatoes, remove the seeds and the juice, and cut them in small dice. Peel and dice the onion. Chop the basil leaves. If you have a garlic press, squish two of the cloves. If you don’t, peel them and chop them finely.

Put the tomatoes, onion, basil and garlic in a bowl. Add a little olive oil, salt, pepper and piment d’espelette to taste. If you have time, cover and let rest in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, so the flavors can meld.

Cut the baguette in half, then slice each half lengthwise. Toast the bread pieces in the toaster or the oven. Cut the last garlic clove in two halves. Rub the moist sides of the clove halves on the bread, and brush a little olive oil. Distribute the tomato mixture evenly between the four pieces, and sprinkle cheese on top.

Put the bruschetta pieces under the broiler for 5 to 10 minutes, until the cheese starts to melt. Serve immediately, with a mesclun salad.

This was a delicious weeknight dinner : quick to make, very pretty, and what could be more satisfying than garlicky crusty bread, melty cheese, and flavorful tomatoes, eaten with your fingers? Of course, it would also make a very nice opener, or even finger food, if cut into bite-size pieces.

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  • http://www.gastroblog.com Jackie

    This sounds delicious, Clotilde. The few times I’ve ordered bruschetta in restaurants, the bread has been tough and hard to bite, so while I like the idea of bruschetta, I have been put off it for awhile.

    Your recipe reminds me of one of those weird food rules that no one has ever really been able to explain to me: Why are so many cooks so insistent that one never cuts basil, but always tears it (or, if making pesto, uses a pestle and mortar to bash it to smithereens)? Even a Google search finds lots of pages saying “Tear the leaves, don’t cut!” but none of them explain it. Hrmph.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Woopsadaisy! I had no idea you weren’t supposed to chop basil with a knife, and have unwittingly been committing this crime on a regular basis! :)

    My own little research has led me to the explanation that basil leaves turn black when chopped with a knife… Hm. I never noticed that! Maybe because I have magic E. Dehillerin knives? ;)

  • http://www.makunas.com/aliveone Jenny

    Herbivore! I used to live about 3 blocks from the one in the Mission! How funny.

    And yes, I chop basil with abandon. I’ve never heard that particular warning, and I’m happy to continue doing chopping away.

  • http://www.frog-gras.org Blue

    Clotilde,

    I generally dislike raw tomatoes. The only great exception to this rule is bruschetta, and this one looks great. I always used to think of good things to eat while on the bus. Maybe it’s the moving thing, I don’t know; but I don’t plan as well now that I drive to work. Too busy yelling at people, maybe… ;)

    And the herbed sheep’s milk cheese, yum! Great job, Clotilde!

  • http://ilforno.typepad.com/il_forno/ Alberto

    Clotilde,

    an interesting take on bruschetta. I never thought of baguette, I usually use rustic bread, but I’ll try it next time.
    On cutting basil: I was always told that basil gets a slight bitter flavour when cut with metal knives. Since I always tear it I can’t really compare.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Jenny – The Herbivore restaurant we went to was on Valencia, I think. That’s probably the same as yours, right? Did you go there often?

    Blue – I’m surprised you dislike raw tomatoes! Even the really good perfectly ripe heirloom ones?

    Alberto – In the US, the bruschettas I’ve had were always made on baguettte or on a pizza like crust. Is rustic bread the more traditional Italian way?

  • http://ilforno.typepad.com/il_forno/ Alberto

    Clotilde,

    I don’t want to play the mean Italian guy who complains on how foreigners cook our food :-))), but since you ask:
    bruschetta traditionally refers to the rustic bread slices, grilled and brushed with garlic. The topping can actually vary a lot. Tomatoes are very common but aubergines, mushrooms, lard and even black tuscan cabbage are not rare. As long as it has a “country food” feeling to it you can top them with anything that sounds good to you.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Alberto – no, please, be the mean Italian guy who complains on how foreigners cook your food, it makes me feel better about being the persnickety French girl who complains on how foreigners cook *our* food! ;)

    And thanks for the definition of authentic bruchetta. So cheese is not required? Aubergine bruschetta sounds fantastic!

  • http://ilforno.typepad.com/il_forno/ Alberto

    Clotilde, I’ve seen chesse on tomato bruschette from time to time, mostly young sheep cheese. I would say that nothing is required apart the garlic :-)!
    If the aubergine bruschetta sounds interesting have a look at this nice post:

    http://www.thefoodsection.com/foodsection/2003/12/eggplant_in_a_m.html

  • http://www.frog-gras.org Blue

    Admittedly, I have never had a tomato straight from the vine and fresh. I know that someday I should try them, if maybe I were to grow my own or someone had some available.

    But generally, my dislike for tomatoes goes back to when I was a kid and *had* to eat them even though they were pale and mushy. :P

  • rebecca

    Back to the basil question-
    what I have heard (and might make some sort of sense) is that when you rip the leaves they break along the natural veins of the leaf, whereas if you cut them, you slice through the veins and the juices and color leaks out, making the basil more limp and flavorless.
    (I love your site by the way)

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Rebecca – thanks for this new explanation, it does make sense. And I like the idea of respecting the natural movement of the basil leaf, it all sounds very much at peace with the elements, you know? :) OK, from now on, I promise that no basil shall ever be chopped on my kitchen counter!

  • http://culturecat.net Clancy

    Hey, how do you pronounce bruschetta? Most people say it like “bruSHetta,” but once on Cooking Live with Sara Moulton, Moulton pronounced it “bruSKetta.” Just curious. :-) Looks yummy.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Clancy – I am certainly no authority on the matter, as it is an Italian word, but I say “brusKetta”…

  • Mateo

    It is most deffinatly “bruSHetta”

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Mateo – From my research, it seems that it is, in fact, “brusKeta”. What I have found is that Italian pronunciation depends on the dialect, but the formal pronunciation is this. Are you from Italy?

  • Heather

    In Italian the letters “ch” together are pronouced like “k”. There could be some dialects that soften the sound, but this is the proper pronunciation in standard Italian. But who cares how you say it–it’s delicious.

  • kaiqi

    er..regarding this brushchetta,actually there are still lots of ways to do it..but wat i kinda prefer is to spread some garlic spread onto the bread itself..normall i would use forcacia(if i never spell wrongly)bread,those with herbs in it..instead of using halves garlic cloves to rub onto the bread..i would blend the garlic with some corn oil and pesto..apply onto the bread and bake the bread for about 5mins..from then i spread my tomatoe dices onto the bread..but i hate basil leaves,it leaves a very weird smell in my mouth..heezz..that’s just my comments..

  • Nancy

    I’m new to this blog, which I read about in a food article in the Boston Globe recently.
    I only make bruschetta in the summer when fresh tomatoes are available (I detest hothouse tomoatoes!). I prefer a wetter tomato mixture, so I make a thick balsamic vinnegrete and add the garlic (pressed) to it. I also love it with diced fresh mozzarella (especially buffalo) cheese. I let the mixture sit, to bring out the natural juice of the tomatoes. It is best eaten with a knife and fork, as it can be a bit drippy. But is is SO delicious, especially with salt and fresh ground pepper!

  • Mike

    Guess whats for dinner tonight? : )

  • Giuseppe

    Just wanted to help clarify a few things:
    Basil – pesto is traditionally made with a mortar and pestol because, as others have mentioned, something happens when you cut pesto with stainless steel. Now, this isn’t the reason le nonne in italy made their pesto with a mortar and pestol (more for texture and blend of tastes), but nonetheless, the metal has a chemical reaction with the basil, turning it black and giving it a bit of a sour spot.

    Bruschetta – can really be just about anything, as Antonio said. It basically depends on where you order it, what the region’s specialty is, and what the chef feels like putting on it. The tomato version here is a classic, and quite tasty.

  • Shakira

    Hi. The word bruschetta is derived from the Italian verb, bruscare, meaning to roast over coals. The proper way to pronounce the word is Broos-ketta. Here is a recipe for bruschetta that my (Italian) grandfather used to make: Set your oven to a low temperature and slowly toast a few slices of foccacia. Chop up a few cloves of garlic in a blender and add enough virgin olive oil to it to make a paste. Spread this onto the foccacia while it is hot. Place sliced boiled eggs onto the foccacia. Lay slices of Mozzarella over the egg and and put them under a hot grill for a few seconds until the cheese just starts to soften but not bubble. Garnish with basil leaves or sliced olives. This simple treat is lovely when served with wine as a light lunch.

  • Robert

    I love all the comments and recipes. As one who is gifted with the abilility use authentic inflection when pronouncing Latin languages, I have a great interest in getting it right.

    My favorite recipe is rustica and simple. Toast sliced baguette style bread. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn’t get soggy. Rub it with fresh garlic. Also rub it with a tomato at room temperature. The acid grabs attention. Sprinkle a little cayenne pepper for a sexy little bite that confounds the palate. Toss fresh diced tomatoes with olive oil and some salt. Include some basil any way that is convenient. I have found that fresh basil at room temperature really doesn’t know whether you shred with your hands, chop it up with a knife or just place it whole.

    I agree the correct pronunciation is Broosketta. Akira’s recipe is the first one I have ever heard of to include eggs and foccacia. Sounds great for a brunch! Try my tip and add that little sprinkle of cayenne. I learned this from the head cook at a small Italian resaurant in Downey, California of all places. Off course his name was Tony. What else?

    When I invite friends over for dinner, the first thing they ask is whether I am going to cook Italian. The same recipe I described above can be used to make garlic bread. Everything is exactly the same including the garlic rub and the tomato rub. Just omit the chopped tomatoes. But, keep in a drizzle of olive oil and most definitely the cayenne pepper and a little sprinkle of salt.

  • Kelly

    Ah, so it IS pronounced Brus-ketta. I came across a post today on the Not Dreadful blog (http://www.notdreadful.com/), and did some research…
    I always thought it was bruShetta – ack! Thanks for confirming it!

  • Monney

    A note on pronunciation: if bruschetta were to be pronounced ‘bruSHetta’, the word would have to be spelled “bruscetta” (no ‘h’). Those of you who say ‘brushetta’, how do you say “chianti” and “vecchio”? :)

  • famdoz

    I made this for an entree last night for some friends, using ‘pain de compagne’ pre-sliced, topped with fresh parmesan and it was superb. I didnt have time to let the ingredients sit for more than 30 mins, but still bursting with flavour

  • http://nithyascorner.com/ Nithyascorner

    Loved your Brushetta preparation. My method of preparation is also the same http://nithyascorner.com/?p=6694 except that I do not use cheese. Anyways, love to try your version soon. Will let you know how it comes.

    -Nithyascorner

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