One of Italy’s most loved starter recipes, Bruschetta was developed by field workers who would roast some bread over an open fire then add some delicious and fresh toppings for a quick and simple snack.
The term Bruschetta comes from the Italian for toasted – bruscato. Thus, the traditional way to make this famous Italian recipe is to grill the bread over a fire or barbecue, or toast it on the rack of an oven (do not toast the bread under the griller).
But how do you pronounce Bruschetta just like a local? Putting on your best Italian accent, the ‘bru’ is as in ‘brew’ then, ‘schetta’ is like ‘sketta’ – ‘brew-sketta’ (don’t forget the double t sound).
(Pro tip: keep in mind that the Italian alphabet does not contain the letter k, with the sound instead being represented by the combination of “ch”.)
As to the topping, typically Bruschetta refers to the toasted bread drizzled with fresh-pressed extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. The idea is that in this way, Bruschetta also allows you to taste and enjoy the quality of the just-pressed olive oil.
Different regions of Italy may have their own dialect terms for Bruschetta. In Tuscany, it is “Fettunta”, that translates to ‘oily slice’. Other regions refer to this dish rather as “Panunto”, literally ‘oily bread’.
To make the ‘real’ Italian garlic bread, you may rub a clove of garlic over the bread first.
It is also common to add other toppings to Bruschetta. The most common addition is just-picked tomatoes, in which case you would be making Bruschetta al Pomodoro – Tomato Bruschetta. This can only be made during the warmer months when the tomatoes are in season and at their best.
For the Tomato Bruschetta recipe, take ripe but firm tomatoes. Removing the seeds, dice the tomatoes, drizzle with quality extra virgin olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Some people will then add quality fragrant oregano or else fresh basil. To use basil, the leaves should be either ripped with your fingers or cut with a ceramic knife – never with a normal blade as the basil reacts with the metal and turns black. Stir carefully with a big spoon. Allow the tomato mixture to rest a few minutes then serve over the roasted bread slices. Again, you can rub the slices of bread with garlic first if you prefer.
Alternative options are to add in some chopped buffalo mozzarella cheese or black olives.