Cooking in Italy: how to make (and pronounce!) bruschetta
‘Bruschetta’ is a traditional, simple and delicious starter to any meal.
It was originally a meal enjoyed by workers in the fields who could easily roast up some bread and top it with some fresh ingredients for a quick dish on the go.
The term traditionally refers to bread baked in the oven or toasted over a grill (in Italian, ‘bruscato’) and served with a topping – even as simple as a drizzling of olive oil and a pinch of salt. You can also rub the bread first with a clove of garlic to make the real Italian garlic bread, before adding the oil and salt.
In this simple way, it is enjoyed just after the olive harvest to taste the quality of the new season olive oil.
There are different terms for this traditional bruschetta in each region of Italy. In Tuscany it is ‘fettunta’, which roughly translates to ‘oily slice’, whilst in other regions it may also be called ‘panunto’, meaning oily bread.
Bruschetta can also be topped with a variety of fresh, in-season items. The most famous is Bruschetta al Pomodoro – tomato bruschetta.
To make this simple and delicious Italian starter, take fresh in-season tomatoes that are ripe but firm. Remove the seeds and dice the rest. Cover with good quality extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Take some fresh basil leaves and rip them into little pieces. Never chop fresh basil with a knife as the reaction between the metal and the basil will change the taste and turn the leaves black. (The only exception is if you are using a ceramic knife.)
Cut your bread into slices and either roast them in the oven or on a barbecue grill (never under the griller though). Then, take a peeled clove of garlic and rub it lightly over one side of the bread. Scoop the tomato mix on top and serve immediately.
Alternative options include adding in some chopped up black olives, some fresh mozzarella cheese*, or using oregano instead of basil.
So that’s how to make it. But just how do you pronounce bruschetta? It is something like, brew-sketta (don’t forget to say it with a nice Italian flair!).
The Italian alphabet has no letter k, so the combination ‘ch’ serves to make the k sound.
To learn to make delicious, typical Italian recipes before indulging in a delicious meal made by you, we have hands-on cooking classes in Florence and Cooking Classes in a Tuscan Villa.
* Tomatoes and basil prepared as above with the mozzarella makes for a great summer pasta dish. Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente, strain the pasta and put back into the pasta pot. Mix in the tomato, ripped basil and mozzarella then coat with extra virgin olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste. You can serve hot, or even let it cool. If you prepare this in advance, you can place it in the fridge but remove it in time to make sure it is served room temperature.