Bruschetta with a twist

Taking inspiration from Italy, yet using ideas from Ireland and around the world, make toppings for bruschetta.
 
If I'm having people over for dinner and want to make it an occasion, I like to serve a little treat. A teaser for the meal ahead. It should always be delicious, but rarely fancy and never fussy. For me, bruschetta is the perfect middle ground. It can have a really creative and fabulous-tasting topping, but at the end of the day it's still just something delicious on toast!
 
Bruschetta is Italian. It originally referred to a simple dish of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with fresh tomatoes and olive oil. It makes for a lovely antipasto, served perhaps with some salami and pickled peppers or artichoke hearts as a light lunch. Yet even in Italy there are hundreds of variations for toppings and since bruschetta has become popular outside of Italy, the topping ideas have grown still.
 
Even with so many variations there are a few factors that make bruschetta distinctive. If at all possible the bread should be grilled rather than toasted. If you have a wood or charcoal barbecue then all the better. The slight charring gives a divine flavour, and the very high heat means the bread can be crisped on the outside while still being just soft enough within.
 
Of course if you don't have a barbecue at the ready, you can grill the bread on a griddle pan or even in a heavy frying pan. After the bread has been grilled it should be rubbed with a little garlic and drizzled with your best extra virgin olive oil.
 
The classic bruschetta should just be really good-quality perfectly ripe tomatoes. They should be diced just before serving, then mixed with salt, pepper and olive oil and spooned over the grilled bread. If you'd like to get a little more adventurous these are some other ideas to try. Many of them can be made ahead, so serving is simply a matter of placing on top of the bread and perhaps drizzling with a little oil.
 

Bruschetta Recipe & Toppings: 

Shaneod Oct 20, 2014 News