Okay so, I am not saying there is a right way and a wrong way. But to the Italians there might be? For those of you that know me, you may know that I studied abroad in Florence, Italy for a little over 4 months, more than 10 years ago. It still kills me today that people pronounce bruscetta, bru-sh-eta. Just so you know, it is pronouced bru-ske-ta. Just sayin'! Now, when you make it or order it, you will know how to say it right. Today, I am going to teach you the secret to making bruscetta the way the Italians do :)
Directions1 (Time Saver-this step is optional) Prepare the tomatoes first. Parboil the tomatoes for one minute in boiling water that has just been removed from the burner. Drain. Using a sharp small knife, remove the skins of the tomatoes. (If the tomatoes are too hot, you can protect your finger tips by rubbing them with an ice cube between tomatoes.) Once the tomatoes are peeled, cut them in halves or quarters and remove the seeds and juice from their centers. Also cut out and discard the stem area. Why use plum tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes? The skins are much thicker and there are fewer seeds and less juice.
-If you choose not to remove the skins, then just cut up your tomatoes into somewhat smaller pieces. Use your finger to get the seeds out. The less seeds the better.
2 Make sure there is a top rack in place in your oven. Turn on the oven to 450°F to preheat.
3 Chop your garlic (I use pre-chopped garlic, about 2 tsp). Then chop your basil. I chiffonade it. I take 4 or 5 leaves, and roll them up, then make small slices (see picture above). I put some aside for the top, then chop up the rest a little more. While the oven is heating, get a small sauce pan and put about 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Cook on medium high heat until golden. The golden brown happens very fast, so watch closely. It can go from brown to burnt in the blink of an eye. Poor over chopped tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped basil. And the balsamic vinegar.
4 Slice the loaf in about 1/2 inch thick slices. But can we talk about the bread first? This in my opinion is the key to a good bruscetta. You want a bread that is robust, has some hold to it. French bread can be somewhat soft, so really try to find an Italian rustic bread if you can. And you don't want to get a little baguette. I know they have those bags of precut baguette slices and that would be really easy. But that does not give you or your guests enough to savor. You want a medium size loaf and you can ask the bakery to slice it for you. I did. So after its' sliced, place on cookie sheet and drizzle or coat one side of each slice with olive oil using a pastry brush. Then sprinkle a small amount of kosher salt over the top. You will want to toast them in the top rack in your oven. Toast for 5-6 minutes, until the bread just begins to turn golden brown.
5 When they come out of the oven take a clove of garlic and rub the garlic on the top of each slice. See the garlic clove above, this is after it is rubbed on, it kind of melts into the bread. This is the more traditional method of making bruschetta.
6 Align the bread on a serving platter, olive oil side up. Either place the tomato topping in a bowl separately with a spoon for people to serve themselves over the bread (good for parties), or place some topping on each slice of bread and serve. If you top each slice with the tomatoes, do it right before serving or the bread may get soggy. Top with the remaining basil and parmesan cheese if desired. You could also splash it with a little more balsamic if you choose. Enjoy!