Bruschetta, ( listen), served as an antipasto, is a bright and fresh start to any Italian meal. A dinner guest once remarked, "it's kind of like an Italian pico de gallo". Exactly that. An Italian salsa fresca. Except that in Italy it's served over crostini.
There are many variations but here's the traditional recipe. On different occasions, I've added shaved fennel, sun dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olives and even chopped figs. You can get pretty creative with this mixture. But for now, here's the basic skinny.
- 1 pint fresh tomatoes, diced
- 8-10 basil leaves, chiffonade
- 2 Tbs minced shallots, or mild sweet onion
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 2 TBS good EVOO
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Just mix together in a bowl and let this sit and sweat while you prepare the crostini.
- 1 loaf of crusty Italian Bread, sliced thin
- a couple of fresh cloves of garlic, sliced in half
- extra virgin olive oil
Rub each side of the bread slices with the cut garlic and brush with olive oil. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil, under a watchful eye, until golden brown, turning once.
That's it! Pretty easy, yes? Just top each crostini with a mound of the tomato mixture and serve as an antipasto.
I sometimes add a couple of toppings on the table, besides a bowl of the bruschetta, and let guests assemble their own crusty appetizers. Try goat cheese, rolled prosciutto, olive tapenade, or roasted eggplant. Do-it-yourself appetizers not only whet the appetite, but also break the ice. A great start to a lively Italian meal.