September 05, 2023
The most simple, summery and versatile dish in Italian cuisine!
Despite being a frugal dish, bruschetta has a timeless charm.
Bruschetta exudes Italianism from every pore, starting with the extra virgin olive oil, the use of toasted bread and tasty tomatoes from southern Italy, and ending with the basil leaves, a must on every Italian windowsill.
But what does bruschetta represent for Italians?
Bruschetta is a ritual, a simple frugal meal, a snack prepared by grandma after homework, an idea for an aperitif on the balcony, a snack when you get home, but above all, a long love story.
Although the original features 3 simple ingredients, bruschetta is like a palette that gives free rein to everyone's creativity.
But let's start with the traditional recipe, the one with oil and tomato.
1) TOMATO BRUSCHETTA
The choice of ingredients when it comes to such simple recipes is crucial, and in this case we prefer a quality, slightly acidic extra virgin olive oil on our bruschetta, which goes very well with ripe tomatoes.
The ideal bread for bruschetta is homemade bread, which has a compact crumb that remains crunchy and soft at the same time and absorbs the extra virgin olive oil when grilled.
In addition, the bread must be large enough and have a crispy crust, so that once cut, the slices will be large enough to hold all our ingredients.
The choice of tomatoes is equally important, you can choose endless varieties, with one rule, they must be ripe and tasty enough.
The first thing to do to prepare a bruschetta is to start with the seasoning, so we wash the tomatoes and once they are dry, we cut them into small pieces.
We transfer the tomatoes to a bowl and add oil, salt, two cloves of garlic and chopped basil leaves.
Our dressing will be left to macerate while we prepare the bread.
Cut the bread slices vertically, the number of slices varies depending on how many we want to make.
To toast the bread we can either use a frying pan, a griddle, or a baking tray that will go in the oven.
In the latter case, we preheat the oven to 180° and place the slices on the baking tray, turning them first on one side and then the other.
If instead we decide to use a frying pan, we heat it over medium heat and brown the slices for a few minutes first on one side then the other.
The browning must be slow and not too high to prevent the slices from burning and remaining soft inside.
When the bread is toasted, we can now place them on a plate and season them.
If you are a fan of strong flavours, you can rub a clove of garlic on the slice before seasoning it, vice versa, if you want a milder taste, you can proceed directly by putting the seasoning on the slice.
To finish each bruschetta always garnish with a drizzle of oil and a nice basil leaf.
2) BRUSCHETTA WITH FIGS, PARMA HAM AND HONEY
As we said before, bruschetta is certainly a blank canvas that gives us the possibility of making a thousand combinations.
One version I really like is the one with figs and prosciutto crudo! A more 'gourmet' version that combines the saltiness of ham with the sweetness of figs and honey.
This intriguing bruschetta is a perfect aperitif to serve with a good glass of red wine.
The preparation is really simple, the important thing here too is to choose high quality ingredients, sweet and ripe figs and a soft and tasty prosciutto.
As for the bread, the procedure is the same as the previous version, the pan will be used twice to grill the figs as well.
Once washed, the figs are cut into 4 segments and toasted first on one side and then on the other for a few minutes.
We then start the composition by placing a slice of ham at the base, followed by the slices of grilled figs and a teaspoon of honey to garnish.
3) BRUSCHETTA WITH YELLOW DATES, TUNA FILETS AND BURRATA CHEESE
The last variation we propose is a summer bruschetta, reminiscent of the sea and sunsets on the beach.
This version features yellow datterini, a variety of tomato with a small, uneven cylindrical shape, resembling a small golden nugget. It is characterized by its intense yellow color and marked sweetness, making it almost devoid of acidity, releasing a range of unique flavors and aromas. We use this ingredient as in the classic version, cutting it into small pieces and letting it flavor in a bowl with oil, salt and basil.
The other main ingredients are tuna, preferably whole and drained filets, and burrata, a stringy cheese typical of Apulia, a region in southern Italy.
What distinguishes Burrata from a classic Mozzarella is the inside: in fact, while on the outside to the untrained eye the two products might look quite similar, only once opened does the soft heart and Stracciatella that makes it up reveal itself.
Once we have listed all the ingredients for this summer version of bruschetta, we can start composing it.
We take a slice of toasted bread and pour in a generous spoonful of previously seasoned yellow tomatoes, add a few pieces of tuna filet and a piece of freshly cut soft burrata cheese, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a leaf of basil.
Now that our 3 bruschettas are ready, all we have to do is fill up a nice glass of wine and start our Italian aperitif!
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Words and Photographs by Gianina Rose