RECIPE: Basil and Tomato Brushcetta
To start off, Mr. Language Person would like to save you some future embarrassment. It is not pronounced broo-shet-tah. It is correctly pronounced broo-skate-tah, with a slight emphasis on the “skate”. Bruschetta is one of those easy to make, impressive to serve, and delicious to eat dishes that everyone should have in their culinary bag. It can serve as a side dish or an appetizer, or when paired with cheese, fruit, and some wine, it can be a meal all by itself. Furthermore it will make you, the chef, look all Continental and Europeany to your guests, which is always cool.
Bruschetta is, at its heart, nothing more than grilled or toasted bread topped with a variety of vegetables, cheeses, and/or meats. The Basil and Tomato version is a popular classic, combining fresh basil, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and tomatoes to make a tangy relish for the topping. It’s important to choose a crusty bread as your platform, because it needs to toast firmly to supply the requisite crunch and to be able to support the toppings. Day-old bread is just fine. In fact, it’s thought that the dish evolved as a way to salvage bread going stale.
Pay attention here, you don’t want the bread so toasted that the slices turn into ceramic tiles, you just want some color and crunch. The first few times I made this, I erred in each direction. If you toast too little or use wussy bread, then your finished product is too flimsy and people spill tomatoes and oil and basil all over the place when they eat it (although it will still taste good). If you toast too much or cut the bread too thickly, you end up with planks of bread-wood that break teeth or shatter into pieces when people try to eat them, spilling tomatoes and oil and basil etc. Neither of these are good outcomes.
After the final broiling, plate and serve immediately, and begin basking in the adoration of your grateful audience. Check out The Google for suggestions on other toppings. Don’t be afraid to experiment here (think roasted peppers, or a chunky salsa for a SouthWestern version). You’re welcome.
Rating: If you use wimpy bread or under-toast it, 3 out of 5 (it still tastes great). If you over-toast it and it breaks teeth, probably 1 out of 5. When you do it right, 4 out of 5. Plan to do it right.