Bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKET-tah) is a tasty food that’s been enjoyed in Italy for over six centuries. The concept is very simple: discs of sliced Italian bread are seasoned, toasted and topped with a flavorful salad of tender chopped veggies, cured meats or cheese drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled with herbs and seasonings.
It is a type of antipasto, or appetizer, though it can also be a side dish for a picnic. Bruschetta is so versatile; you can tweak the recipes to your tastes or to bring variety to your lunch.
This rustic Italian fare does wonders to elevate your picnic to something classy and adult, though even kids will enjoy munching on bruschetta.
The following recipe is just one variation of bruschetta. After the recipe, you’ll find other flavor combinations that you can use, as well as tips for packing bruschetta for a picnic.
1 loaf of crusty, fresh Italian bread
3 tbsps olive oil
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large, ripe tomatoes
a handful of basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Preheat the oven to broil. Slice the bread into 1/2 inch thick slices. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Step 2: Mix the minced garlic into the olive oil and stir. Brush some onto the bread slices. Flip the slices over and brush more olive oil and garlic onto them.
Step 3: Place the bread slices into the oven. Keep an eye on them! Don’t walk away! With the oven on broil, they can burn in seconds.
After about 1 minute the tops of the bread slices will be lightly browned and toasted. Flip them over and put them back into the oven for another minute or so, allowing the opposite side to become toasted.
Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool.
Step 4: Place a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a rolling boil.
Make a small “X” on the bottom of the tomatoes.
Place a tomato in the boiling water for about 15 seconds.
Remove it and put it under cold running water for about 30 seconds. You don’t want to cook the tomato, but this will help loosen the skin.
Use a knife or your fingers to grab the skin where you made the “X” cut and pull. The skin should easily peel right off.
Slice the tomato into quarters. Cut away the seeds and core. Discard them. Dice the flesh of the tomato into about ¼ inch squares.
Step 5: Peel a cucumber. Cut it in half, length-wise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard them.
Dice the cucumbers so they’re the same size as the diced tomatoes. Place them into a bowl and mix them.
Drizzle with the remainder of olive oil and garlic. Chop and sprinkle the mixture with fresh basil. Add salt and pepper. Taste the mixture and tweak the flavors until you like the taste.
Step 6: Spoon the mixture onto the bread slices.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, if desired.
Different Flavor Combinations for Toppings:
Chopped prosciutto with diced cantaloupe melon
Flame roasted zucchini sprinkled with parsley and basil
Roasted red pepper and chopped artichoke hearts
Tomato, artichoke heart and chopped black olives
Cucumber and chopped black olives
Chick peas, provolone and sweet peppers
Chopped pepperoni and provolone
Dried tomatoes, mozzarella and garlic
Sautéed mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and hot capicola
Chopped spinach sautéed in garlic with mozzarella cheese and crumbled, browned sausage
Any of these flavors will taste great all by themselves with a little olive oil, salt and pepper: tomato, cucumber, zucchini, artichoke heart, roasted pepper, chopped pepperoni, sliced prosciutto or chopped fresh mozzarella cheese.
Always salt and pepper to taste.
If you prefer, instead of olive oil, use fat free Italian dressing.
Picnic Packing Tips
To bring bruschetta along on a picnic, make the toasted Italian bread slices (crostini) and place them in a sealed container or Ziploc bag to keep them dry and from getting stale.
Prepare one or more toppings and place each topping in a small plastic food container.
When you get to the picnic, place the crostini on a tray or plate and put the topping of choice on it for the diner.
An excellent companion to bruschetta is pasta salad or Italian lunch meat sandwiches.