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No Italian barbecue is complete without bruschette, slices of sourdough bread toasted on the barbecue, rubbed with garlic, drizzled with Italian extra virgin olive oil and some fresh vegetable toppings.
What is a bruschetta or bruschette
Every Italian barbecue starts with a bruschetta: rustic bread cut in slices and roasted over the charcoal. The garlic is rubbed on the toasted surface of the slice and extra virgin olive oil and salt added for seasoning.
It is very important that the bread is rustic like sourdough. The inside should be soft while the outside crust has to be crunchy and thick.
Bruschetta is an easy appetizer you can quickly prepare and serve to your guests while the meat is cooking on the barbecue.
For Italians, it is mandatory at every barbecue!
Bruschetta or bruschette? The difference is simple: bruschetta is the singular name, while bruschette is plural. However before I even continue to write the article, let’s get one thing straight:
I cringe when I hear Celebrity Chef’s pronouncing Bruschetta: BRUSHETTA!
HELLOOOOO! Do your homework before you go on air, honey!
It is pronounced BRUSKETTA,
and I can understand if a man (or woman) from the street pronounces it wrong, but if you are broadcasting to millions of people, get your pronunciations right …. or just say Toast!
What to serve with bruschetta
The simple way to serve bruschetta is to scrape the fresh garlic clove over the crusty bread. The garlic is grated by the crunchy toasted surface of the bread.
Besides the simple seasoning of extra virgin olive oil and salt, slices of fresh juicy tomato are laid over the bread with some basil leaves. During the summer, when the tomatoes are at the peak of their season it is the most delicious starter to have.
You can top bruschette with many different types of vegetable topping, but the most important ingredient is a good quality EVOO.
What is EVOO oil
At first, I was very confused when I saw the name EVOO, then I realized that it is the short name for Extra Virgin Olive Oil. But do you really know what Extra Virgin means?
Olive oil to be called Extra Virgin has to have specific characteristics.
First cold-pressed olive oil:
- it is the oil extracted from the first pressing of the olive
- the olive pressing should be mechanic and at temperatures not above 27 C – 80 F
- acidity level should be below 0.8% per 100 g (3.5 oz)
A simple virgin olive oil instead has the acidity limit to 2% per 100 g (3.5 oz).
The acidity is measured by instruments, while the quality of the extra virgin olive oil is based on organoleptic measurement which is done by experts tasting.
Difference between extra virgin olive oil and olive oil
Regular olive oil is instead extracted with chemical processes to eliminate organoleptic defects. After this process the oil loses its colour and taste, it is therefore mixed with extra virgin olive oil to give back the resemblance of olive oil. The amount of extra virgin olive oil added is just the minimum necessary.
Using a good Extra Virgin Olive Oil is very important, it can completely change the flavour of any recipes, in particular bruschette.
For all bruschetta toppings, I use extra virgin olive oil, but never use the virgin olive oil to make homemade mayonnaise, it just doesn’t work.
This chart created by ‘Jamie’s Italian’, beautifully describes the different types of olive oil, where it comes from and how professionals taste it.
The chart is very comprehensive in its explanation and description.
Storing extra virgin olive oil
Fortunately several of my relatives produce olive oil and every year my mother sends me 2.5 gallon – 10 litres. So I am always sure about the quality of my olive oil.
October is the month when olive oil is pressed, and we always wait for the new harvest to stock up for the year. After 1 year the olive oil loses its flavour and increases in acidity, so we never buy more than 10 litres. If needed we stock it up during the year.
Olive oil should be stored in a dark container which is light-resistant. That is why it is sold in cans or in greenish bottles.
Every week I pour the virgin olive oil into small bottles which I sometimes flavour with hot chilli.
If I infuse garlic or herbs into the oil I use it within 2 days or add some lemon to prevent the risk of botulism (toxic bacterial).
A typical Italian olive oil mix used for fish is Salmoriglio: virgin olive oil, parsley, garlic and lemon.
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4 Easy Bruschette Toppings
Once you have a good extra virgin olive oil, you can serve the bruschette with various toppings.
Since bruschetta, extra virgin olive oil and garlic are meant to be together, I propose 4 alternative bruschette toppings using these 2 ingredients.
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- cut the bread loaf in slices and toast them over the charcoal.
- scrape the fresh garlic clove over the crusty bread and the garlic is grated by the crunchy toasted surface of the bread.
- drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and salt