Bruschetta anyone?

Well, technically, I did not quite make bruschetta, apparently.

In Ancient times, around December, peasants would dip a flat bun in the freshest olive oil that had been pressed not to long ago, often flavored it with garlic and called this treat clustrum. Nowadays, a simple piece of bread grilled or toasted, flavored simply with olive oil, garlic and salt is called fett’unta in Tuscany, but it is eaten all over Italy.

We use the term bruschetta to describe a piece of bread, rather thickly sliced, most often a slice of dense country bread or sourdough, that is grilled or toasted, then rubbed with a garlic clove on one side and garnished with various toppings. Bruschetta comes from the verb bruscare, meaning grilling over coals, but a broiler or a grill pan will do the job.

Crostini on the other hand, are made with smaller pieces of bread, usually cut from a French baguette and toasted, not grilled. These little ”croûtes” are also garnished with various toppings.

So now that we all know the difference between clustrum, fett’unta, bruschetta and crostini, it is time to start grilling or toasting.

So yesterday, I made a cross between a crostini and a bruschetta (a bruschini or a crostetta?) and it was tremendous. I like to cut the bread around 2 cm thick and I grill it over medium heat in a grill pan until crisp on both sides. Then, while the bread is still hot, I rub one side with the cut side of a garlic clove. I then garnish the bread with something delicious and fresh, not that storebought-already-made-bruschetta stuff.

Here are three of my favorite toppings for bruschetta. The first is simply a combination of fresh tomatoes, capers, basil and olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. For the second, I used good quality cannellini beans to which I added a bit of finely chopped sage, salt and pepper and olive oil. I let the flavors combine for maybe fifteen minutes before spooning it on the bread. For the third, I cooked sliced shiitake mushrooms in a bit of olive oil, then finished it with a bit of unsalted butter. When completely cooled, I mixed the mushrooms with sliced prosciutto and topped the bread with a bit of pecorino.

Don’t forget one last big drizzle of olive oil over everything. As the peasants of ancient times, only use your best olive oil.

What are your favorites bruschetta/crostini toppings?

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