When I was a child, a loaf of crusty, fresh bread was enjoyed at every meal regardless of what else was on the menu. That was, of course, the Italian way…A meal without bread was simply incomplete. As bread lovers, Italians have found many ways to enjoy bread as the center a meal, and – for me – bruschetta stands out among them.
What Is Bruschetta?
Bruschetta (pronounced “Brew-skeh-ta”) is grilled artisan bread. At its simplest, it’s rubbed with a halved garlic clove to infuse it with fresh garlic flavor – it’s sometimes called the “original garlic bread.”
The most common bruschetta topping we find in the U.S. is a delectable combination of chopped fresh tomatoes with fresh basil and olive oil. With a few grinds of salt and pepper, magic happens. At least that’s what I found when making my Tomato Bruschetta recipe below.
While I like to order bruschetta appetizers in Italian restaurants, I prefer to make it at home where I can control the quality and quantity of my ingredients. Plus there’s something incredibly satisfying about DIY bruschetta.
How to Make Bruschetta
- Gather your ingredients:
Good bruschetta starts with really good bread. As Viana LaPlace writes in her delightful cookbook, Verdura: Vegetables Italian Style: “To successfully reproduce Italian-style dishes calling for bread, the bread must be honest, made with pure ingredients, and touched by the hand of a baker. It must be the kind of bread that satisfies our deepest, most primitive hungers.”
With that, source the highest quality artisan bread you can find.
For the topping:
- Chopped heirloom, plum or cherry tomatoes
- Chopped fresh basil leaves
- High-quality olive oil – EVOO and/or Crushed Flavored Olive Oil (garlic, basil, rosemary or jalapeño garlic)
- Freshly ground natural salt and pepper, to taste
You may also or instead want to use:
- Sliced avocado
- Chopped red onion
- Chopped garlic
- Sauteed peppers and onions
- Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
- Fresh rosemary, chopped
- Cheese – fresh Mozzerella slices, goat cheese crumbles, or Parmesan shavings
- Balsamic vinegar
2. Combine topping ingredients of choice in a bowl.
3. Grill bread in the oven until lightly toasted.
4. Drizzle the grilled bread with extra virgin olive oil or flavored olive oil.
My family LOVES making tomato bruschetta (recipe below) with garlic flavored olive oil. We marinate the tomatoes and basil in organic extra virgin olive oil, then drizzle the toasted bread with garlic flavored olive oil for just the right amount of savory garlic.
5. Spoon topping onto the bread and serve – it’s that easy!
Easy Tomato Bruschetta Recipe
- 2 to 6 slices (depending on size) of fresh bread
- 1 ½ to 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (a colorful mix is always nice)
- Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 8 to 14 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- Natural Salt Blend
- Pepper & Juniper Blend
- Garlic Flavored Olive Oil
Preheat grill or oven to 375 degrees F. Slice bread. In a bowl, combine the chopped tomato and basil with 1 to 2 Tbsp olive oil, then add freshly ground natural salt and pepper, to taste.
Heat the bread in the oven or on the grill until toasted. Drizzle each slice of bread with Garlic Flavored Olive Oil. Arrange 1 to 2 slices of the toast on each plate, then top with a generous portion of the tomato mixture. Slice in half, then serve. Mangiare!
For convenience or variety, try these variations:
- Use Basil Olive Oil in addition to or as a substitute for the fresh basil and garnish with parsley.
- Substitute Jalapeño Garlic Olive Oil on the grilled bread for arrabiata (spicy hot)-style bruschetta
- Use Rosemary Olive Oil for additional herbaceous flavor.
- Drizzle with Balsamic Vinegar to add piquant and tangy flavor
Easy Avocado Bruschetta Recipe
Bruschetta might also be called the original avocado toast, since avocado is among the many other delicious toppings Italians are known to make bruschetta with. For this variation, you’ll need:
- 2 to 6 slices (depending on size) of fresh, artisan-baked bread
- 1 ripe avocado
- EVOO, Lemon Olive Oil or Garlic Olive Oil
- Italian Seasoning & Dipping Blend, to taste
Preheat grill or oven to 375 degrees F. Slice bread. With a fork, mash the avocado in a bowl with 1 Tbsp Lemon or Garlic Olive Oil.
Heat the bread in the oven or on the grill until toasted. Drizzle bread with olive oil of choice. Arrange 1 to 2 slices of the toast on each plate, then slather each with the mashed avocado mixture. Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning & Dipping Blend, then serve. Mangiare!
- Substitute Jalapeño Garlic Olive Oil for a kick of chili heat.
- Add chopped cilantro to the mashed avocado – cilantro is one of my favorite herbs because it helps chelate heavy metals from the body.
Is Bruschetta Healthy?
In a nutshell, bruschetta can be a part of a healthy anti-inflammatory diet when enjoyed in moderation.
As I mentioned earlier, I grew up eating bread at every meal, and later continued this tradition with my own family. It was only after I became a cardiologist certified in nutrition that I began questioning bread’s heart-healthiness, or lack thereof. After all, most bread in America – including what was known as “Italian bread” – is highly processed and high-carb, not what I would prescribe as part of a heart-healthy diet. Too much of it, too often, is a recipe for weight gain and health problems like diabetes.
But, as is the case with pasta, bread has for years and years been a part of the heart-healthy Mediterranean Diet, which is now recognized as one of the healthiest diets in the world. The keys to having your bread and eating it too are sensible portions and pairing it with healthy fats like olive oil, as well as proteins, and veggies. Read my ebook, The Pasta Diet, to learn more – you can download it here.
From my heart to yours,
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