Bruschetta is a popular menu item at many Italian restaurants. Usually served as an appetizer, the most common form of bruschetta is the traditional tomato and basil bruschetta. For the person seeking to learn how to make traditional tomato and basil bruschetta, here is a guide explaining how.
Italian in origin, bruschetta itself, is actually thin slices of Italian bread, which have been rubbed with olive oil and garlic, then grilled until lightly browned, or, thin slices of Italian bread which have been grilled first, then rubbed with garlic and oil. There are as many variations on bruschetta, as there are cooks. Through the years however, the combination of diced tomatoes and fresh basil, often bathed in a balsamic vinaigrette dressing, has become the standard- bearer for bruschetta in most American restaurants.
For the cook learning how to make traditional tomato and basil bruschetta, it is important to ‘think small’. The tomatoes,(preferrably seeded) should be cut into a small dice. Because the recipe included in this guide contains red onion, that too, must be cut into a small dice. The garlic should be minced, or chopped- fine. The classic way to cut fresh basil for traditional tomato and basil bruschetta, is to ‘chiffonade’ the fresh. green herb. To make a chiffonade cut with the fresh basil, take several leaves and stack them on top of each other. Starting at the bottom/ center, ‘roll’ the leaves into a tight cylinder, like rolling a crepe or a cigarette. Hold the cylinder together with one hand, and very carefully, slice the cylinder of basil with a knife, as fine as possible. This will result in strands, or threads of fresh basil, which must be pulled apart. Not only does this type of cut look nice, but it is also more palatable, or desirable to eat when sliced ultra- thin. The strands or threads of basil are more ‘mouth- friendly’ than torn pieces of leaves or a larger cut.
Although this guide includes a recipe for balsamic vinaigrette, with the preponderance of inexpensive, pre-made bottled dressings available, it is more economical and practical to buy a bottle of commercial dressing for $1.39. In recent years, many chefs have broadened the horizons of the humble bruschetta, creating bruschettas topped with fig compote, goat cheese, prosciutto, chicken, white bean puree and tomato sauce and cheese, capitalizing on the resemblance of bruschetta to little pizzas. The use of fresh tomatoes, red onion, garlic and basil are key to the strengths of this simple dish. When these distinct flavors are brought together and lightly bathed in a balsamic vinaigrette dressing, the resulting flavor fairly sings off the plate.
Here’s how to make traditional tomato and basil bruschetta.
You will need..
2 medium- size tomatoes(seeded, preferrably)
2 Tablespoons small- diced red or white onion
1 clove of garlic, reserved, chopped fine
10 or 12 fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil. or balsamic vinaigrette dressing
2 cloves of garlic
* sugar or sweetener* (optional)
Slice tomatoes in half, remove insides.(all seeds and ‘meat’)
Cut seeded tomatoes into small dice. Place in bowl. Add small- diced red onion and garlic. Add basil, salt and pepper. Coat lightly with olive oil or balsamic vinaigrette. Let tomato mixture sit in bowl. Next, spread a light film of olive oil on slices of bread. Cut two remaing garlic cloves into 1/4’s, and rub the pieces of garlic onto the oil- coated bread, to add flavor. Grill, or broil the slices of bread until just golden- brown, and remove from heat. Since bruschetta slices are somewhat dainty, or fragile, it is best to place the bread slices directly onto a serving platter. Carefully spoon the tomato mixture onto the slices of bread. A thin drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette, or olive oil over the top of the finished bruschetta is a nice touch. Some people like to add diced or sliced fresh mozzarella cheese to the top of traditional tomato and basil bruschetta, essentially creating a variant of pizza.
Although traditional tomato and basil bruschetta is primarily served as an appetizer, it also serves as a wonderful light dinner entree when matched with vegetables or pasta.
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon chopped onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 Tablespoon prepared mustard
salt and pepper
3/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar or 1 packet of sweetener
Place all ingredients except oil in bowl. Add oil very slowly, while whisking constantly. When ingredients are blended, dressing is ready.