Simple Bruschetta (or a glimpse of my Italian diary)

21 Jul

I can’t believe it’s been a year since my time in Italy. I’ve been missing it a lot lately, and the recent invasion of my kitchen by Italian cooking can prove it. What better way to fill the void than with Italian food?!

No matter how many times I make bruschetta, I nearly always have a food-gasm on the first bite. If you are thinking, “Really? Bruschetta? The red stuff they give you with chips as an appetizer at bar/grill-type restaurants?”, then keep reading.

Good and authentic bruschetta is fresh, juicy, chewy goodness you can eat for an appetizer, a meal, or a snack.

Bruschetta – pronounced broo-skeht-tah (or if you happen to know the phonetic alphabet and you want to be authentic, it’s [bɾusket:ta]) – is a type of crostini. Crostini (“little toasts”) are small slices of toasted bread, topped with various vegetables or meats. Bruschetta is “little toasts” with some kind of tomato topping.

Here’s the way I usually prepare it myself (simple and Italian). These portions make for a hefty meal for one, or they could serve a few as an appetizer. You’ll need:

  • 10 or 12 1/2-inch slices of a baguette (or thinner slices, however you like) – Your grocery store’s “Italian” or “French” baguettes will work just fine.
  • a large, ripe tomato
  • fresh garlic
  • good olive oil
  • fresh or dried basil (or not)
Pour some olive oil (maybe 2 tablespoons) into a frying pan, and press at least a clove of garlic into it. If you don’t have a garlic press, you can crush it with a knife, but I prefer to press directly into the oil so you get as much of the “juice” as possible. 
Sautee the garlic on low heat, just until golden. Don’t burn it! It shouldn’t be blackened or charred, just browned a little.
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While the garlic is sauteing, you can prepare the tomato. Quarter the tomato, and remove the seeds and juice. Cut the quarters into small chunks (the chunks in my pictures are kind of large). Place them aside in a bowl large enough for tossing.
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When the garlic is brown, use a fork (or something) to scoop it out of the pan and into the bowl of tomatoes (leaving the oil in the pan). Toss/lightly stir the garlic in with the tomatos. You can add the basil here if you want, but when the tomatoes are fresh and the olive oil is good, you wouldn’t notice it’s missing!
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Now for the “little toasts.” The key is to toast the bread in fresh-garlic-soaked olive oil (those words alone make my mouth water.) Turn the heat up to medium, and place as many baguette slices as you can fit in the pan. Be sure each slice has enough olive oil to toast without burning. 
Continue to toast as many slices as you want. I like to toast both sides of each slice, but it’s up to you. If you run out of oil, just add a little more – sometimes (and this is not-so-Italian) I add a little garlic salt to the fresh oil. :)
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For fun, here’s a picture of the kitchen from my apartment in Italy (which is unusually large), and what you’d see out the windows.
Buon appetito :)
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