Travel Inspired Recipes: Classic Italian Bruschetta

Italian bruschetta is a delicious classic appetizer that takes little to no time to make, but its taste is what Italians swear by.

Travel Inspired Recipes: Classic Italian Bruschetta

The Italians love their bread, olive oil, and tomatoes. From tomato pizza to tomato and bread soup and, of course, classic Italian bruschetta, Italy is one of the top consumers of the tomatoes in the world. While some of the Italian recipes can be time consuming, Italian bruschetta takes approximately 10 minutes to make. This fact is probably the key element why the Italians eat their bruschetta before main dishes.

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Italian what?

The first Italian bruschetta was eaten by the Etruscan civilization. Back then to add taste to the local, usually saltless bread, people brushed it with garlic and olive oil before baking in ovens. Often a glass of wine accompanied ancient bruschetta.

One tale says that farmers, busy harvesting the tomatoes, often rubbed pieces of the tomatoes on the bread and snack on it in the fields. Moreover, even the name “bruschetta” has close connection with the Italian farmers. It’s believed that “brusca” was a tool for grooming horses and cattle. In Tuscany, though, this explanation of the name of bruschetta hardly has any supporters. Here, the locals insist that the word “bruscare”, which means “to toast”, lies in the origin of the name of this popular Italian dish.

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Many Variations of Italian Bruschetta

For such a simple recipe, Italian bruschetta boasts way too many variations, depending on where in Italy you eat it. One of the Tuscan recipes is by far the easiest one. It only asks for garlic-rubbed toasted slices of bread, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. Other Tuscan versions of Italian bruschetta include meat such as prosciutto crude, fresh sausage, lard, or chicken livers. Quite often you can see white cannelloni beans instead of tomatoes on top of bruschetta in this part of the country.

Romans prefer anchovies and mozzarella on their bruschetta. They say that Sicilians often substituted fresh basil for the fresh oregano. In other parts of the country, Italian bruschetta is served with mushrooms, eggplant (my favorite version), and zucchini.

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


  • 2-3 ripe tomatoes, chopped, or 1 pint cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Any rustic Italian loaf, sliced (I use 4 slices of sourdough bread)
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced in half
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • About 1/2 teaspoon flaky Maldon sea salt


  1. Place the chopped tomatoes and basil in a medium-sized bowl; gently stir.
  2. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over the tomatoes and basil and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, toast the bread slices on a charcoal grill until golden-brown and lightly marked with grill lines. (You can also toast the bread in an oven or toaster).
  4. Rub both sides of the grilled bread with the cut end of the garlic clove.
  5. Top each slice of the bread with the marinated tomatoes. Drizzle the olive oil, add more chopped fresh basil, and sprinkle with salt.
  6. Serve immediately.

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