Super Easy Bruschetta
This is a quick and easy appetizer that is consistently pronounced wrong by wait staff in restaurants in the US. Say “brew-sket’-ta” not “brewsheta.” Note that the “ch” is a hard “k” sound in Italian, not a soft, “sh” sound. Also, double consonants are always audible in Italian: so say both “tees” almost to the point of breaking the word into two syllables. Now, on to the food!
- Farmers or peasant bread (fresh or day-old, your choice); use your favorite oblong dinner or sandwich rolls too)
- One can of your favorite whole, peeled tomatoes (add fresh chopped tomatoes if you have them)
- 2-3 tablespoons of oregano or mixed Mediterranean herbs (herbes de Provence would work well too!)
- 1/4 cup or more extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste (adjust according to how salty your bread is)
- 3-4 cloves garlic
Prepare this as your guests are arriving and as you wait for the water to boil for the pasta.
I use a potato masher to mash the canned tomatoes in a bowl and then mix all of the ingredients to taste (except the bread and garlic).
Slice (but not too thin) and toast the bread. Once the bread is firmly toasted, scrape it with a clove of garlic. One clove should suffice for several pieces of toast. Spread a generous helping of the tomato mixture on top of the bread and serve as your guests are waiting to be called to the table (you might give them a plate or napkin so they don’t make a mess!)
Some will pretend not to want a second piece, but go ahead and prepare it anyway as they’ll eat it. (Leave the garlic off a few pieces of toast as you’ll always have those who opt out of garlic).
Bruschetta has a multitude of variations. The simplest is just toast, olive oil and salt. Or you can do toast, oil and prosciutto. Tomato bruschetta comes from southern Italy, namely Puglia, where tomatoes ripen early in the summer and are abundant. You can make this with fresh tomato, too. In Tuscany a bruschetta is called fettunta, named for the big slice (fetta) of Tuscan bread. Classic Tuscan fettunta has garlic and white beans or stewed cabbage on it with no tomatoes. Beans and cabbage are the prime ingredients for Tuscan soups so the Tuscan cook always had some handy. A Tuscan farmer would make a light dinner out of a large fettunta.
So experiment all you want and buon appetito!