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When you hear Bruschetta, you automatically think summer, Italy, Italian food and crusty bread, warm days, sparkling drinks, sun hats, sandals and smiles.
Homemade Bruschetta Al Pomodoro and the Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast Saturday Bread recipe are something I can whip up all the time. I most likely always have the ingredients on hand and need to use it up. And this is a brilliant recipe that really can be modified to whatever other leftovers you may have.
This classic antipasto is really easy to make and only needs a few fresh ingredients, good bread, tomatoes, red onion, basil, garlic, balsamic vinegar, a good cheese and extra virgin olive oil.
Bruschetta is an incredibly easy, simple food but maybe that’s why it’s so popular. Somehow the easier, simpler and basic a recipe is, the better it tastes in my opinion.
What is Bruschetta?
Bruschetta (pronounced broo-skeh-ttah) is served as an antipasto and uses the best quality ingredients to make something simple but delicious.
In it’s purest form, Bruschetta is grilled bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a little salt. The word bruschetta refers to the process of preparing and cooking the bread.
But it can be prepared with a variety of toppings and these can get quite different and complex, with many toppings in restaurants around the world or on blogs unlikely to ever be seen in Italy. And I guess this is why I love European recipes so much. French and Italian people are very specific about maintaining the traditional ways of a recipe, of reproducing it the same way every time without deviation.
It is this love and appreciation for their food that is so intrinsically linked to their culture and why their foods and dishes are so revered.
This Classic Bruschetta – Bruschetta Al Pomodoro is one that is loved throughout Italy. It uses fresh tomatoes (pomodoro) as a simple yet delicious topping.
Italian Bruschetta Ingredients
The Tomatoes for Bruschetta
Which tomatoes to use – Use the freshest and ripest tomatoes you can, they will have the sweetest purest flavour. I like to use Roma tomatoes, but if the ripest you can find are cherry tomatoes, then use those. The vine grown ones are the best I’ve found, especially as they teeter over to slightly overripe.
How you cut the tomatoes is very much dependent on where you go in Italy. Some regions will serve slices of tomato, while others will serve chopped. I go on what I feel like for the day. If the tomatoes are super fresh, then I chop because slicing them becomes difficult. If they are less ripe and can hold form better, I may slice super thin so it can be topped with cheese or something else and is easier to layer onto.
The Onion for Bruschetta
In Italy the addition of spanish onion (red onion) comes down to each individual family recipe and how their Nonna used to make it! I love to add just a little to our bruschetta because I love the taste of spanish onion in these types of dishes.
There is only a small amount of onion in the recipe, just to give it a different texture and add some sweetness. Onion starts to “cook” slightly when left to sit in the juice of the tomatoes due to the acidity, so feel free to leave the onion out if you find the taste of raw onion too strong. You can also thinly slice the onion with a mandolin and then add them at the end as a topper to avoid this which is what I usually do.
The Bread for Bruschetta
You want to use a good rustic style loaf for this. Something like a Pane di Casa or a crusty artisan loaf is perfect! Day-old Ciabatta can be a great choice too.
Some of the sourdough loaves are fabulous as they are so dense they make great crispy sturdy toasts, so they hold up well to the tomato juice!
Just make sure that if you are buying the bread, you get a sturdy continental style bread and not the sandwich style that’s soft. Once you have your loaf, cut it into slice about 1.5cm thick. You can go a little thicker, but don’t go thinner, or your toast won’t hold the weight of the tomatoes.
Brush the bread with olive oil or butter and then grill on both sides until golden and crispy. You can do this under the grill, on a pan, or on the BBQ. I like to use a cast iron grilling pan with grill lines so I can get the lovely charr marks. They add extra flavor.
Once grilled, take you peeled clove of garlic and rub it over the crispy bread. Rub firmly enough that it releases some garlic flavor/juice, but not so hard that your rip or tear your bread.
Drizzle the bread with an excellent extra virgin olive oil before layering the tomato mixture.
Other tools you may need
I have compiled a list of some of my favourite tools for bread baking in general.
Go to my Pinterest board Sourdough Baking Essentials for links to all my baking necessities.
- Unlike most fresh tomato recipes, in this Bruschetta Al Pomodoro, the tomatoes want to be cold. The warm bread and the cold topping makes so much difference! If you want to make and use it ASAP, just try and plan ahead a little and put the tomato mixture into the fridge before plating up.
- Use your very best extra virgin olive oil for this recipe; the difference is fantastic. If you feel like being adventurous, a chilli or herb infused oil can work well here too for extra flavour oompf.
- Tear the basil into small pieces with your fingers as this will help to release the flavour. Cutting it with a knife can make it go black more quickly whereas tearing it helps to preserve the green color.
- If you have time, make the tomato and onion mixture in advance and let it sit in the refrigerator. This will mellow the onion flavor and allow all the other flavors to develop.
- Once the tomatoes have rested, you can drain the liquid away, although we fight over that part in our house! A leftover slice of bruschetta dipped into that juice is AMAZING!
Although bruschetta doesn’t want to be assembled ahead of time as the bread starts to go soggy, you can make the components a couple of hours beforehand.
Can I toast bread for bruschetta ahead of time
You sure can! Get the bread crisp (with or without char lines) ready in advance. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.
When you are ready to eat, heat in the oven for 5 minutes, then proceed with the garlic and olive oil steps.
I don’t do it this way, as I would rather use prep time to get the tomato mixture done before hand, and grill the bread last. I find it much tastier that way.
Making the tomato topping for bruschetta ahead of time
You can make the topping for the bruschetta a couple of hours before you want to serve it. Keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready for it. Add a little extra fresh basil and then pile onto the warm breads.
Or if you are serving these at a party: Arrange the bread on a plate and leave the bowl of tomato ready for people to top the bruschetta themselves.
FWSY Saturday Bread with Bruschetta Al Pomodoro
You can make the most amazing traditional Tomato Bruschetta at home with a few simple, fresh ingredients. It’s so easy! The tomatoes, basil, and garlic turn the simple bruschetta toasts into a delicious summer appetizer. This Bruschetta Al Pomodoro recipe uses a few ingredients to make a classic Italian easy appetizer! Included is my go to recipe for white crusty bread from FWSY.
- Bread – recipe is from FWSY by Ken Forkish
720g warm water
6-8 small to medium tomatoes
Half a spanish onion sliced VERY thin
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced + 1 for rubbing onto toast
1/4c thinly chopped basil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1tsp salt + salt to taste at the end
OPTIONAL: Ricotta or feta smear/crumble
- Bread Dough
- In a large mixing bowl, mix 1000g flour with 720g warm water until just combined. Let sit for 30 minutes covered.
- Add 20g salt and 4g yeast and mix dough by hand. You do not knead this dough, rather, you pull and stretch the dough up and over itself.
- After salt and yeast is combined, let dough mix sit for 30 minutes. This dough needs at least 3 folds every 30 minutes.
- When you’ve finished the folds, you can leave this dough to rise until double in size. If you want to make this dough ahead of time, it can sit for 24-48 hours covered and in the fridge before baking. You may find it gives a more sour taste leaving it this long, which will mimick sourdough.
- If you want to bake this on the same day, it’s best to start this dough mix earlier on in the day, before 10am. If the weather is warm, then this should rise within a few hours. If the weather is cooler, it could take 5-6 hours before being suitable for baking. I would highly recommend mixing this dough up the day before and baking it the morning of so that you have enough time to let the dough get to room temp for slicing and toasting.
- After the bread has risen, lightly flour your surface and shape the dough into a boule or baguette shape per your preference. Bake in a Dutch oven on 250c for 30 minutes with the lid on, and then 18-20 mins with the lid off. Pre-heat your oven to 250c prior to baking.
- Let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Slice into at least 1.5cm slices for this recipe.
- In a medium pan over medium-low heat, heat oil. Cook 2 cloves sliced garlic with chili flakes until lightly golden, 2-4 minutes. Let cool.
- Meanwhile, set a large strainer over a bowl. Add tomatoes and toss with 1/2 tsp salt. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Add basil, vinegar, oil mixture with garlic and chili and remaining 1/2 tsp salt to bowl with tomatoes and combines. Let marinate at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days. The longer it marinates the better the flavour.
- Toasting & Assembly
- If using cast iron, start warming up your pan/grill until it is hot. Lightly spray some olive oil.
- Butter your bread on both sides and grill until golden. This may take 5-10 minutes depending on how hot your grill is. Don’t walk away from it so it doesn’t burn. After it has been toasted, let it cool for 5 minutes, then rub your topping side with a garlic clove before lightly drizzling with EVOO.
- If using cheese, you can smear it between the tomato mixture and the bread, or crumble it lightly over the topping. Ricotta would be best utilised to smear, and a good feta would be best used to crumble over the top.
- Arrange bread on a platter or dish and spoon tomatoes on top of bread just before serving. Taste your tomato mixture here for seasoning. You may need to add a bit more salt.
- I’ve subbed ricotta and feta in this recipe depending on what I’ve had in the fridge. Cottage cheese also works great as it already has that creamy spreadable consistency.
- I’ve also used rosemary when I haven’t had basil. The taste was awesome.
- Day old bread is better than fresh bread for this recipe, but both taste amazing!