Bruschetta is an ultimate summertime dish, but it can go wrong. Follow our techniques below to achieve extraordinary results that would please anyone. Serve it as a first course, or make it your whole meal.
FOR THE BREAD:
- 1 Large baguette
- ciabatta, sourdough, country loaf(s), focaccia, Italian bread, or flat bread(s) of any kind can also be used
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground, black pepper
FOR THE TOPPINGS:
- 2 lbs tomatoes
- The variety of tomato you use is not important; cherry tomatoes, beefsteak, heirloom, grape tomatoes, Roma, etc. are all suitable. Tomatoes are available year round, but reach their peak in the Summer months.
- 1 large red onion
- Like the tomatoes, the variety of onion you use is not important. Red, white, shallot, yellow, etc., can all be used. We chose a red onion, as it has a sweet flavor that pairs well with the balsamic.
- 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- A softer cheese (like mozzarella), is best to use as it melts quickly when introduced to heat. Harder cheeses, like parmesan, can be used, but will take longer to melt, and will exude oil as they heat.
- 1/2 cup chopped basil
- If you don’t have a basil plant, a jar of pesto, thinned out with olive oil until it’s more spreadable, is an excellent substitute.
GET CHEFFY TIP!- Tomatoes and basil are traditional bruschetta toppings, but you can add just about anything you’d like. Our version is vegetarian, but you can create a “meat-lovers” bruschetta with pieces of pepperoni, salami, mortadella, prosciutto, or pre-cooked bacon and sausage. Change up the vegetables with sautéed mushrooms, olives, peppers, or artichokes, and GET CHEFFY with additional toppings of ricotta, chives, chopped almonds or pine nuts.
- Begin by chopping your 2 lbs of tomatoes into medium dice. Place your chopped tomatoes in a colander, or sieve, in the sink (or over a large bowl), and sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon salt onto your tomatoes. Toss your tomatoes in the salt, and allow to sit at room temperature while you prepare your other ingredients.
- Salting cut fruits/vegetables draws out their liquid, and seasons the flesh of the fruit/vegetable you’re using. In the case of bruschetta, we don’t want our tomatoes overly watery; this method of salting and waiting, will work with eggplants, zucchini, and a variety of other produce items.
- Chop your onion into a fine, small dice, and place in a medium sized stock pot. Cover your diced red onion in your 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar and allow to sit at room temperature
- Vinegars, and other acids, remove some of the “bite” of raw onions/garlic and other allium (onion) family items. Next time you’re making a vinaigrette, let your chopped, raw, garlic relax in some lemon juice, or vinegar, for 15 minutes, before adding your olive oil; it mellows the flavors beautifully.
3A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL:
After you’ve prepared your tomatoes and onions, light a 3/4 full charcoal chimney. After about 15 minutes, you’ll begin to see light, gray ash appearing along the edges of your coals. Dump your coals into your pit, banked onto just one side of your grill. Your goal is to create a “hot-zone” and a “cool zone”.
3B: FOR A GAS GRILL:
After you’ve prepared your tomatoes and onions, turn all burners of your gas grill on high, and close the lid. Allow your grill to heat up, 5-10 minutes, before opening the lid, and scraping down the grates. Once your grill grates are clean, turn off one side of your burners completely and reduce the heat of your second side to medium.
4. While your grill heats, slice your loaf lengthwise to create two, even strips of bread. You can slice your loaf into individual/sandwich slices as well, but will need to be aware of the reduced cooking time, and may need to increase your oil from 2-3 tablspoons to 4-5 tablspoons.
5. Combine your olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and brush onto the cut side of your loaf until all areas of the loaf have absorbed a thin layer of oil.
6. Clean and oil your grill grates, and bring your sliced loaf out to your grill on a sheet pan. Carefully position your bread, cut side down, directly over the coals (for a charcoal grill) or directly over the burners (for a gas grill).*.
*Oiled bread will cook very quickly…in as little as 30 seconds-1 minute at times. Do not walk away from your bread once you’ve placed it directly over heat.
7. After 30 seconds to 1 minute, lift up your bread with tongs, or a spatula, and check on it’s progress. I may need more time, or it may already be developing the color you’re after. You want to achieve a uniform toasted brown color on your bread. This will be the only time you’re exposing the cut side to heat/browning, so move your bread in/out of the heat, and rotate it’s positioning to achieve the toasted color you’re after.
8. Once the cut side of your bread has achieved a uniform toasted color, remove the bread from grill grates with tongs or a spatula.
9. Strain your red onion out of your balsamic, and set the onions aside. Boil and reduce your balsamic vinegar, over medium heat, until you’re left with a concentrated syrup that clings to a spoon, and pours with the consistency of honey; 5-10 minutes. You should have 2-3 tablespoons of concentrated balsamic at the end. Set aside.
10. Return your bread to the grill with the cut/browned side facing up. Place your bread away from the heat/coals/flames in your “cool zone”, and top with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your shredded cheese. Cover your grill, and allow the cheese to melt for 2-3 minutes. This cheese creates a barrier between the wetness of the tomatoes and the bread. This cheese layer also provides a “bed” for your tomatoes/onions to stick to so they don’t jump off the bread as easily when you slice and serve.
11. After 2-3 minutes, your cheese should be melted. Rotate your breads if the section closest to the flame is browning too quickly. Combine your diced onions and tomatoes into one bowl and stir to combine. Evenly top your bread with your tomato/onion mixture. If you have two, long baguette slices, as we recommend, eyeball your tomato/onion mixture in its bowl; draw a mental line down the middle of the bowl, and know that you’ve got that much topping to cover one of your bread slices.
12. Top your tomato/onion mixture with the remaining shredded cheese, and cover again with a grill grate. Allow your bruschetta to heat under the covered grill until your top layer of cheese has melted; another 3-4 minutes. Carefully remove the bread from the grill with tongs, or a spatula, and drizzle your balsamic reduction over your bread. Top with your chopped basil, slice, and serve.