Theo Randall, The Intercontinental
Bruschetta can be very simple with just olive oil and garlic but there are many ways to make it more exciting. One way is to chop up some cherry tomatoes and mix them with olive oil and basil. Toast the bread and rub with a peeled garlic clove and then some olive oil, push the chopped tomatoes and all their juice into the bread so they are stuck and then chop up some buffalo mozzarella and scatter on top. Take a microplane grater and grate over some fresh parmesan cheese with black pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil on top.
Another delicious way to eat bruschetta is to take some courgettes, slice them thinly and cook them slowly with garlic, olive oil, basil and sea salt until they go mushy. Spread them on top of grilled bruschetta with fresh ricotta, red chilli and – best of all – some chopped salted anchovies on top with a good drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.
When looking for good olive oil to use on bruschetta, look for single-variety olive oils that are produced from a cold extraction method. There are some very good oils from Italy, Spain and Greece. The most expensive olive oil tends to come from Tuscany as the oil is really intense and has a lot of flavour. Southern Italian oils tend to be more affordable but still good quality. I find Puglia is a great place for olive oil, as is Sicily where they produce the super fragrant nocellara del belice olive oil. Always have two olive oils in your kitchen, one for cooking and one for finishing dishes.
The jars of Italian passata are best, when it comes to chopped tomatoes, as they have a lid and you can use as little or as much as you need and put the lid back on and keep it in the fridge for up to four days. Tins are not as versatile – you tend to use all the contents as you don’t want the tin in your fridge.
As for fresh tomatoes, buy them frequently in small quantities and leave them out so they ripen. There is nothing more disappointing than a fridge-cold tomato that has no flavour. Keep them in a fruit bowl and buy a few varieties. A rule of thumb is the smaller they are, the sweeter they are – the bigger ones tend to be fleshier and have a solid texture and far fewer seeds. Personal favourites are datterini, merinda and ox heart tomatoes. The winter tomato called camone is so flavoursome it doesn’t need salt. A simple dressing of good olive oil, fresh basil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper is all these wonderful fruits need.
Ioannis Grammenos, Heliot Steak House
Nothing is more evocative of summer than bruschetta – it is one of the best snacks for gatherings as it is easy to make and full of fresh flavours. The best way to make the ultimate bruschetta is to toast your bread and then – while it is still hot – rub it quickly with garlic. Use the best tomatoes you can find and make sure you give them enough time to sit chopped in salt and extra virgin olive oil before you assemble the bruschetta.
To make them more interesting and summery, add fresh basil leaves, black kalamata olives, a crumble of feta cheese or some grilled halloumi. You could even add a couple of thin slices of meat or steak from a Sunday roast and spoon over the roasting juices from the tray to add extra flavour.
When shopping, choose tomatoes without bruises, blemishes or wrinkles. They should feel heavy for their size. Always check the stem too – it should be fresh and green and smell earthy-sweet and fresh. Don’t wash your tomatoes until it is time to use them and keep them at room temperature (not in the fridge) and out of direct sunlight.
Olive oil is like wine – there are many ways to produce it, and as such, there are many varieties. The worst enemies for olive oil are heat, light and air. Look for a dark bottle that protects it from the light and, if you have the opportunity to taste the olive oil before you buy, it should taste and smell like fresh olives – green, grassy and peppery. Store your olive oil in your cupboard to protect it from the light and always make sure it is well sealed.
Inspired? Here are six recipes to make at home…
Alex Head, Social Pantry
Goat’s Cheese & Heritage Tomato Bruschetta
- 60g of soft goat’s cheese
- 30ml of double cream
- Fresh bread, thickly sliced
- 3 heritage tomatoes
- 1 tbsp of chopped basil leaves
- 1 tbsp of toasted pumpkin seeds
- Olive oil
- Maldon sea salt
- Cut the tomatoes into quarters and in a bowl, mix with the basil leaves, a splash of olive oil. Season and leave aside.
- Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan.
- Slice the bread into thick slices and toast. Alternatively, put on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and Maldon salt and bake at 160ºC for 5-6 minutes until crisp and lightly golden. Set aside to cool.
- Break up the goat’s cheese into small pieces and either blend in a small bowl mixer or whisk by hand until smooth and softened. Once smooth, mix in the double cream – be careful not to over mix.
- To assemble, spread the goat’s cheese onto the toast, top with tomatoes and sprinkle with seeds.
Hattie Mauleverer, Eight Food
Hot Smoked Salmon Bruschetta With Avocado & Tomato Salsa
- 2 slices toasted sourdough slices
- 1 pre-bought hot-smoked salmon fillet (if you have time and fancy it you can buy the raw hot salmon fillets to cook which are delicious too)
- 3-4 tbsp of sour cream
- 1 avocado cut into small chunks, slightly crushed
- 5-6 small cherry tomatoes cut into little pieces or 1 large tomato cut into small dice
- 1 small shallot, very finely chopped
- Good quality olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- In a little bowl combine the tomatoes and shallots and drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper – mix all together and sit whilst you prepare the wrap.
- Lay your sourdough slices on your work bench and dollop your sour cream into the middle and spread all over. Next add your avocado and squash it down into the sour cream.
- Add the salmon, flaking into chunks.
- Spoon your tomato salad on top of your salmon.
Pickled Beetroot, Hummus, Spinach, Rocket & Chilli Sauce Bruschetta
- 2 slices of sourdough
- 5-6 hot pickled beetroot sliced and cut in halves
- 3 tbsp of hummus (shop bought or homemade if preferred)
- Handful baby spinach (rocket also works very well – or try a combination)
- Goat's cheese (optional)
- Chilli sriracha sauce or harissa
- Olive oil
Spread humus generously all over the sourdough slice. Place the spinach and rocket, beetroot and goat's cheese (if using). Drizzle with chilli or harissa sauce and olive oil and enjoy.
Suzanne James, Suzanne James Catering
Feta, Grilled Baby Leeks, Samphire & Chilli On Crostini
- Feta cheese, marinated on olive oil, garlic and thyme
- Baby leeks
- Red chillies
- Cream cheese
- Slice the bread across the loaf, for canape bases. Spray with olive oil and grill in the oven.
- Slice the feta cheese and cut rectangles of smaller size than the canape base.
- Blanch and char-grill the baby leeks. Cut slices into angle.
- Blanch the samphire and chop the red chilies very finely.
- To build the canape: lay out the bread canape bases. Pipe some cream cheese just enough to act as a glue. Place the feta on top, one slice of the baby leeks, a few pieces of samphire and sprinkle the chopped red chillies.
Ben Tish, Norma
Burrata On Bruschetta, With Stewed Courgettes & Fennel And Marjoram
- 4 pieces of very fresh burrata (120g each)
- 4 slices of sourdough bread
- 1 head of fennel, core removed and finely sliced
- 500g of green courgettes, ends trimmed and finely sliced
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 banana shallot, peeled and sliced
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp of demerara sugar
- Fresh marjoram leaves
- Sea salt, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil
- Heat a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, add a glug of olive oil and then add the garlic, shallots, bay and rosemary and cook slowly until very soft but without colour. Now add the sliced fennel and cook for 5 minutes until tender and then the courgettes. Sprinkle in the vinegar, sugar and some seasoning, stir and then simmer everything together for 20 minutes or so until tender. Cool, before transferring into a bowl into the fridge and leave to settle for at least two hours (or overnight) before eating.
- Remove the burrata and stewed vegetables from the fridge.
- Rub the sourdough slices with olive oil, season and the grill on a griddle pan to colour each side.
- Spoon the courgette and fennel stew onto the bruschetta and top with the burrata. Season the top of the burrata and drizzle with extra virgin oil and sprinkle over the marjoram leaves.
Waitrose & Partners
Hot Smoked Salmon on Toast with Avocado & Chilli Jam
4 thick slices of dark sourdough
- 1 ripe avocado, stoned and peeled
- 3 tbsp of Essential low fat natural yogurt
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- 160g of hot smoked salmon, skinned and broken into large flakes
- 2 salad onions, sliced
- 4 tsp of chilli jam
- Toast the sourdough. Spoon the avocado into a bowl and mash up the flesh with a fork. Stir through the yogurt and lemon juice. Season with salt. Spread onto the sourdough toast.
- Scatter over the flaked salmon and salad onions, then top with the chilli jam to serve.
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