Bruschetta has been around for a long time, like 15th century long time. It originated, of course, somewhere in central Italy. The word bruschetta is derived from the word brucare which is of Roman dialect and means “to roast over the coals". (Thanks Wikipedia). I think a lot of people assume that bruschetta refers to the delicious topping on this Italian snack, but it in fact refers to the grilled bread.

It seems to me that the most traditional type of bruschetta is topped with a raw tomato and basil combination. Since Nick and I both do not like raw tomatoes this is not something that we would normally eat. However, since bruschetta was July’s Recipe to Rival challenge, and it is easy and inexpensive to make, I figured we may as well try this recipe out.

Follow up:

I recently learned a lot about bruschetta, particularly from a post by Angela of Spinach Tiger. Apparently there is a very specific way that truly authentic bruschetta should be made. I did not know this until after I made ours, but was pleased to see that the recipe that our host Lauren of Fried Pickles and Ice Cream provided was pretty close to the traditional version. It turns out that she got this recipe from a friend who owns a restaurant in Naples, so no wonder.

An authentic bruschetta should be fresh rustic Italian bread, grilled and then rubbed with a clove of garlic. The key is to not over season the bread or the tomato mixture, especially by using too much garlic. Keep the ingredients simple and of high quality. All you really need to make a great bruschetta is fresh bread, tomatoes. garlic, basil, good olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Not a terribly daunting ingredient list.

I used a wonderful looking Ciabatta loaf from Whole Foods. I figured you can’t get more rustically Italian than some Ciabatta. Though I would love to make this on some homemade bread., We did decide to oven roast the tomatoes instead of just chopping them up raw, so there would be an increased chance that we would actually enjoy this. And enjoy it we did. Every bite was perfection. We are all about big garlic flavor usually, but we both really enjoyed the subtle roll it played here by just being rubbed onto the bread.

It is in dishes like this when you realize what an amazing thing olive oil is. I know everyone uses it for cooking, but now that I am in a good supply of quality Italian olive oils I have been using it more often recently as a finisher to dishes. It really lends a wonderful supple richness when it is used in its “raw” state. On this bruschetta, it mixed with the juices from the tomato to create a wonderfully light sauce. Oh, so good!

I skipped out on the limoncello that was also a part of this month’s challenge because (a) I am not really a drinker and (b) Nick made a batch a while back that we are still working on. However, if you are interested, you can see how to make it here.

Here is the recipe how we made it. If desired, you can skip the whole roasting part and just chop up the raw tomatoes.

(4 servings)
Fried Pickles and Ice Cream

  • 4 slices Rustic Bread
  • 2 cups Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 4 to 8 leaves Basil, cut in chiffonade
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea salt and pepper
  1. Toss the whole tomatoes with basil garlic or regular olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Roast in a 375F oven for about 20-25 minutes. Take them out and let them cool completely, peel of the skins and chop.
  2. Heat grill or grill pan to medium high heat.
  3. Slice THICK pieces of bread.
  4. Place bread on grill until each side has a nice golden color.
  5. Rub garlic on top side of each bread piece.
  6. Pile tomatoes on, sprinkle one big pinch of salt per piece on top of the tomatoes, generously drizzle olive oil on top of tomatoes , add basil to the top.