Q. What exactly is bruschetta?
A. A very simple antipasto from Italy made with bread seasoned with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. It originates from the 15th century when the tradition was to test the new crop of olive oil by toasting rustic bread over hot coals and seasoning it. In Tuscany many still follow this tradition.
The name bruschetta comes from the Italian word bruscare, which means “to roast over coals.” Many variations of bruschetta exist, such as adding tomatoes, other vegetables or beans, and these variations have become quite common. This healthy version uses tomatoes, olives and capers as well as the traditional oil and garlic seasoning.
Chef David Gauvin of Addison Gilbert Hospital’s Café in Gloucester likes to use a Roma tomato for this recipe because Romas are sweeter and have a meatier texture. He starts by quartering and removing the seeds. This will also remove most of the moisture. Then Gauvin completes the dicing by slicing the remaining tomato pieces into slivers and then cuts them the other way, making the pieces extra small.
You can grill the toast a number of ways, using a grill, a toaster or as, in this case, grilling in a sauté pan. Pour some olive oil over the bread and sear on the heated pan (medium to high heat) until golden brown, about 30-seconds per side.
Gauvin prefers the taste of the Kalamata olives but you could substitute something else. He is pretty insistent, however, that Spanish olives would not be suitable.
Since this recipes uses mainly fresh ingredients you may want to season with salt, be sure to taste first because the Kalamata olives and the capers are both preserved with a briny (salty) solution.
1 Roma tomato
3 to 4 Kalamita olives, brined and pitted
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
4 leaves of fresh basil
1 tablespoon capers
Salt to taste
6 thick slices of rustic, whole grain bread
Olive oil to pour onto bread before cooking
Tip: Try and make this topping at least a half hour to one hour before using so that the flavors can blend a little bit.
1. Quarter the tomatoes and remove the seeds. You can remove the seeds easily by running the knife the length of the tomato quarter just below the seed pocket.
Slice the tomato pieces lengthwise and then cross cut them into small pieces to create a dice. Place in a small mixing bowl.
3. Rough chop the olives and add to the bowl. Add the garlic.
4. Take the basil leaves and chiffonade them by piling the leaves together, rolling them and slicing across into very thin strips. Add the shredded basil to the bowl.
Add the capers, salt to taste, add the olive oil and mix. Let sit for one-half to one hour before topping the toast.
6. When close to serving, pour the olive oil over the bread and place onto heated pan (medium/high heat),, grilling one side and then the other until browned. (About 30 seconds a side.)
Spoon the tomato mixture over the grilled bread.
Serve warm or room temperature.
Recipe courtesy of Chefs Pete McGahey and David Gauvin, Unidine, Beverly Hospital and Addison Gilbert Hospital respectively, 2012.