Antica Trattoria da Tito in Florence is a typical Italian trattoria - a casual diner, that dates back over a century. It's also where I enjoyed one of the best versions of Bruschetta (pronounced bru'sketta, and not bru' shetta). An element of bias is inevitable. Florence is my favourite city in Italy; I'm sure my overall impressions of the city also coloured my opinion about everything I ate here. It could also be the fact that there are few appetisers that are more satisfying than the humble Bruschetta when you are ravenously hungry. The perfect antipasto (starter) while you wait for your main course. I could actually make a meal of Bruschetta especially if the last course is a decadent tiramisu.
One of the things I spotted in a few street markets in Italy is a brustolina, a simple Italian grill that sits atop a gas burner on a stove. This grill that combines both convection and radiant heating and is used for traditional dishes like polenta or grilling veggies. It's also used in many Italian homes for Bruschetta. In fact, the name Bruschetta comes from old Latin - 'bruscare', that refers to roasting over coals. Marcella Hazan, one of the most respected Italian food writers suggests that the Bruschetta story can be traced back to ancient Rome. Most of the documentary evidence suggests that the dish originated in central Italy in the 15th century.
(Also Read: Bruschetta, 3 Ways for a Satisfying Main Dish)
Years ago, I met Naples-born Chef Carlo Percuco who runs one of the finest Italian restaurants in Gold Coast, Australia. I still use his simple Italian culinary tips almost every time I cook Italian. Bruschetta is traditionally made with sourdough natural yeast bread. I've found that a hard bread like a baguette - which you can find in many local bakeries in India, works really well. Technically that would be crostini, that is sometimes used interchangeably with Bruschetta. The difference between these two appetisers is the bread - while Bruschetta uses rustic sourdough, crostini is made with fine-textured bread like a baguette cut into smaller rounds. I tend to slice the baguette into thicker slanted slices to take it closer to a bruschetta.
The classic Bruschetta al Pomodoro (tomato) is probably the best known across the world - grilled bread rubbed with garlic then topped with fresh tomato and also basil in many cases. You can top this bread with anything from cured meat or smoked seafood or other veggies - mushroom is a popular choice with a drizzle of cheese.
How To Make Bruschetta al Pomodo | Bruschetta al Pomodoro Recipe
You can wing this with a Microwave. The key is to make sure the bread is slathered with the right amount of garlic butter. You don't want it to too dry or too greasy. The other tip I've learnt is to marinate the tomatoes for about 20-30 minutes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
. Salted butter (softened not melted): to taste
. Finely chopped garlic:
. Slices of sourdough or white baguette
. Finely chopped tomato
. Parsley or basil
. Salt: to taste
. Crushed Pepper: 1/2 teaspoon
. Balsamic vinegar (small quantity for marination)
. Extra virgin olive oil (small quantity for marination)
1. Chop garlic extremely fine and blend it with salted butter (don't melt but soften the butter)
2. Spread that on the hard bread
3. Chop tomatoes and let it marinate for 20-30 minutes along with a herb like parsley or basil some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, some salt and crushed pepper
4. Use convection mode if you're using a microwave. Preheat (180 C) and then set it on convection mode for about 6 minutes
5. You could also toast the bread for 4 minutes on convection mode and then add the tomato topping on each of the slices and then microwave it for 2 minutes
Akami Tuna on Multigrain bread, Ikura
Recipe courtesy - Chef Eliyaz, Chef de cuisine, JW Marriott Hotel Bengaluru
Bruschetta has been reinterpreted in Italian and new-age restaurants across the world. Chef Eliyaz who helms Alba, the Italian restaurant isn't shy to experiment. This version is a happy meeting place of two of my favourite International cuisines - Japanese and Italian. You can try this at home if you can get hold of these exotic ingredients:
. Akami Tuna slices
. Multigrain bread
. Sea salt
. Olive oil
1. Toast the bread after slicing for bruschetta
2. Rub the bread with garlic, Arrange the akami tuna over the bread,
3. Use ikura for garnish.
4. Finish with edible flowers and olive oil
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About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.