Friday, 7 September 2012

Boring Bruschetta

Everyone loves bruschetta. A toasted slice of bread usually topped with tomatoes, maybe a bit of onion, garlic and of course good olive oil and basil. It is a staple on any good Italian restaurant menu and its simplicity is what makes it so delicious to eat. 
Unfortunately the humble bruschetta made its own bed and lay in it. Its simple ingredients can make it seem boring and unimaginative. I mean really bruschetta can be compared to beans on toast, cheese on toast. Hell! We may as well compare it to the mundaneness of melting butter on toast! They're all, at the end of the day, just a bit of toasted bread with something desirable thrown on top. So, how is it that we find so much pleasure in such seemingly boring recipes? 

Well, I think the magic is in attention to detail. Perfectly cooked beans, bread sliced to the right thickness etc. 

For now, I will restrict my attention to the detail of bruschetta, and share some of the ways I think you can make "boring bruschetta" something more special. 

And the detail starts with the bread...

Ciabatta to be precise. It has the perfect, airy and slightly chewy texture with a good crust. 

Cut to about 2/3cm thickness and lightly brushed with olive oil
To get the best, slightly charred, flavour I like to toast the bread on a griddle pan but sticking them under a grill works fine.
And finally, once toasted on both sides, I take a peeled clove of garlic and rub it onto one side of the bread.

Now for the toppings...

Original Tomato and Basil:

2 tomatoes, deseeded and evenly diced
a handful of basil leaves finely chopped
1 garlic clove
chilli flakes
1/2 tablespoons olive oil

It is important to deseed the tomatoes else your mixture will be too wet. Then simply combine all the ingredients, seasoning with salt, chilli flakes and pepper to taste. Add the olive oil depending on how big your tomatoes are such that each piece of tomato is lightly coated. 

Feta, Mint and Peas:

1/2 cup cooked and cooled mashed peas
1/4 cup feta cheese
a small handful of mint leaves finely chopped
a little olive oil

Simply combine the peas and feta together in a bowl, add  a generous amount of mint and a little olive oil so the mixtures melds together. Note that the proportions of peas and feta are very flexible, add more peas to make it sweeter, more feta for a saltier flavour. But the mint is essential to make the mixture taste fresh.

Mozzarella, Courgette, Fennel and Orange:

1 mozzarella ball

1 courgette ribboned
1 fennel bulb sliced thinely
1 orange
1 lemon
olive oil

Slice the mozzarella and keep aside. Ribbon the courgette into a bowl using a potato peeler, add the fennel. Zest the orange into another bowl, add its orange and the juice of half a lemon. Add a pinch of sugar, salt and a sprinkle of black pepper. Drizzle in enough olive oil to make a dressing (probably about 2 to 3 table spoons) and whisk together. Now, dress the courgettes and fennel with the liquid, don't add it all at once, but just enough to ensure they are nicely coated. 

To assemble the bruschetta, top the bread with a slice of mozzerella and then the courgette and fennel salad. 

Ricotta, Tomato, Chilli and Mint:

1/2 tub of ricotta cheese

1/2 red chilli finely chopped
a small handful of mint finely chopped
1/2 a tomato deseeded and evenly diced

Simply combine all the ingredients so that the tomato, mint and chilli are evenly distributed in the ricotta. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Of course, if you don't like spice, you don't have to add as much chilli or alternatively you can add more if you like things hot! I think the chilli works brilliantly against the coolness of the creamy ricotta.   

And there we have it, simply delicious bruschetta!

//Click here to PRINT  RECIPES //

So the perfect bruschetta does take some effort. You can keep it simple or jazz it up with unusual toppings. Despite its simplicity I hope I have shown bruschetta does not have to be boring. 

Until next time...


  1. Mmmm these look delicious, I want to try them all. I really want to try the feta, mint and pea one! It is a great way to use up some extra ingredients you may have laying around. Although it is boring sometimes a piece of toast with some butter melted on top is the best thing ever.

  2. Well done chef! These are mouth-watering!! Yummyy.