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How to Make Perfect Crostini and Bruschetta: It's More Than Just Toast

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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Crostini and bruschetta are the perfect treats for get-togethers. These diverse recipes will make your mouth water.

Crostini and bruschetta are the perfect treats for get-togethers. These diverse recipes will make your mouth water.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

— Aristotle

You're Probably Wondering...

What is a crostini? Well, the actual word is Italian for "little toasts." A small slice of bread is toasted, adorned with sweet and/or savory toppings, and served either warm or at room temperature.

But I've Also Heard Of...

Bruschetta. What's the difference? There is a subtle difference (but to say there is no difference at all will bring about a lengthy and heated discussion with any person of Italian descent, trust me).

Bruschetta is more about the bread that the toppings. In fact, the word bruschetta is derived from the word bruscare, which means to roast over coals. A big, rustic loaf is cut into ample slices, toasted on a grill, and then rubbed with the cut side of a clove of garlic. A drizzle of good-quality olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and you're good to go. Some people like to 'fancy it up' with chopped fresh tomato, torn basil leaves and perhaps just a kiss of balsamic vinegar.

easy-crostini-recipes

Why Are We Getting So Excited About Toast?

Look back at the quote from Aristotle. Simple ingredients—each on their own are good, but combine artisanal bread with garden-crisp vegetables, fresh herbs, and the best meat and cheeses—how can you go wrong?

easy-crostini-recipes

Let's Focus on the Basics

Every building project begins with a firm foundation—even Italian toasts rely on a good-quality base. This is not the place for the middle-of-the-shelf two loaves for a dollar bread. Not Wonder Bread. Not sandwich bread. Crostini and bruschetta are based on a sturdy bread with a crisp crust and a soft and tangy interior, something artisanal, rustic, and crusty.

easy-crostini-recipes

Step 1: The Bread

I've already told you that you need to use a crusty loaf from the bakery. Your next step is make diagonal slices—angle your knife 45 degrees so that you have slices long and slim instead of straight up and down.

The perfect slice is 1/2-inch thick.

Step 2: The Toasting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the bread on 2 large baking sheets and brush each slice on both sides with the olive oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. (If undersides are not browning, turn crostini over once during baking). Let cool on baking sheets. Top crostini with desired toppings, and serve.Let cool completely.

Step 3: The Beautiful, Glorious Toppings

How many ways can you make an Italian "little toast"? The only limit is your imagination (and what you have available in your pantry). Let's begin with the well-known savory little bite we call bruschetta, which, by tradition, holds diced chopped tomatoes and fresh basil.

Basic Bruschetta

Basic Bruschetta

Basic Bruschetta Ingredients

IngredientsWhy?

1 1/2 pounds ripe Roma tomatoes

Romas are meatier; fewer seeds

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Provides a bite, a bit of heat

1 tablespoon good quality olive oil

Dressing for your "salad"

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

sweet and tangy

6 basil leaves, thinly sliced

herby bright flavor

1/2 teaspoon salt

brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

the bite of heat rounds out the flavors

  1. Slice the tomatoes vertically into quarters. Remove the seeds (with the tip of a spoon or your fingertips) then roughly chop the tomatoes into small dice.
  2. Mix diced tomatoes with remaining ingredients. Don't top the toasts with tomato mixture until ready to eat (these quickly get soggy, and you want the toast to be crisp/crunchy).

Now that you know the basic recipe, I'm going to share some flavor combinations with you.

Recipes/Suggestions in This Article

  • Basic Tomato/Basil Bruschetta
  • Cranberry/Bacon Jam Crostini
  • Shrimp/Avocado Crostini
  • Smoked Salmon/Marscapone Crostini
  • Italian Meatball Crostini
  • Apricot/Goat CheeseCrostini
  • Whipped Feta/Olive Tappendade Crostini
  • Mushroom Pesto Crostini
  • Apple and Honey Crostini
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Spread and Strawberry Crostini
  • Sweet Cherries with Ricotta Crostini
Cranberry-Bacon Jam crostini

Cranberry-Bacon Jam crostini

Cranberry Bacon Jam Crostini

Marion is the "chief cook, bottle washer, recipe developer, photographer, writer, social media crazy person, and founder of Life Tastes Good". And she also created this savory bite of cheese, smoky bacon and tart/tangy cranberries.

And here are some more great flavor combinations:

Shrimp/Avocado

  • 1st Layer: Mashed avocado with a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon lime juice.
  • 2nd Layer: Shrimp, cleaned, shelled, and cooked
  • Garnish: Dash of smoked paprika

Smoked Salmon/Mascarpone

  • 1st Layer: Mascarpone cheese with chopped chives
  • 2nd Layer: Smoked salmon (sliced very thinly)
  • Garnish: Fresh dill sprigs and rinsed drained capers

Italian Meatball

  • 1st Layer: Marinara sauce
  • 2nd Layer: Pre-cooked frozen meatballs warmed according to package instructions and sliced in half
  • Garnish: Sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese
Apricot/goat cheese/pistachio crostini

Apricot/goat cheese/pistachio crostini

Apricot/Goat Cheese Crostini

Jessica Erin of stuckonsweets.com provides this introduction to her site: "I am the recipe developer, photographer, and writer behind this here blog! You will find a little of everything including healthy meals, comfort food, and my favorite - sweets. So stay awhile...I hope you're hungry!"

Her apricot/goat cheese crostini has it all—tangy goat cheese, sweet brightly-colored apricots, and the crunch of salty green pistachios.

And then...

Shrimp/Avocado

  • 1st Layer: 1 cup feta, 1/4 cup cream cheese, 2 T Parmesan and 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2nd Layer: Mix of ripe, green, and Kalamata olives, chopped
  • Garnish: arugula leaves, torn

Mushroom Pesto

  • 1st Layer: Basil pesto
  • 2nd Layer: 3 cups assorted sliced mushrooms sautéed in olive oil
  • Garnish: Shaved Parmesan cheese
Brie, apple, and honey crostini

Brie, apple, and honey crostini

This is not the first time I have introduced you to Maria and Josh, the humans behind the sweet blog twopeasandtheirpod. They are so creative, I feel it's worth taking another look. Maria's apple/honey crostini requires one different step—the bread slices are topped with brie prior to going into the oven.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread with Strawberries

  • 1st Layer: Nutella
  • 2nd Layer: Fresh strawberries, sliced
  • Garnish: Pinch of sea salt

Sweet Cherries with Ricotta

  • 1st Layer: Fresh ricotta cheese
  • 2nd Layer: Sweet cherries, pitted, chopped, and mixed with sugar
  • Garnish: Lemon zest

© 2017 Linda Lum

Comments

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 07, 2017:

Rachel - You have made me SOOOOO happy. Thank you for sharing that.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on June 07, 2017:

Hi Linda, Just as I thought the bruschetta was a hit with my family. I made the simple ones with just the tomatoes on it because it went better with my meal. Very Good!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 31, 2017:

Rachel - That makes me so happy!!!!

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on May 31, 2017:

Hi Linda, I want you to know I'm making the tomato crostini this weekend for my family and have no doubt they will love it.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 31, 2017:

Shauna - I was first introduced to goat cheese when I visited my cousins in Slovenia. Cows and goats graze on the hillside just moments from their house, and the cheese was the freshest you will find anywhere. Our meal was simple--a few cheeses, sliced meat, and fresh bread but it was absolutely Heavenly. Good memories.

For that reason I love goat cheese and look for excuses to use it. My family thinks it a bit funky, but using the sweet apricots and pistachios brings them over to my side.

Thanks for stopping by.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 31, 2017:

I'm glad I ate lunch before reading this, Diva. It all looks so yummy. Goat cheese, apricot and pistachios sounds like the ticket to satisfy my occasional sweet tooth.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on May 10, 2017:

Lori - Buttery, crunchy bread AND yummy toppings too? Sounds like Heaven, doesn't it? I'm glad you found this article and hope you will soon try some of these ideas.

I look forward to hearing from you again.

Lori Colbo from Pacific Northwest on May 10, 2017:

I don't know why but I thought bruschetta was a meat like prosciutto. I worked in a deli for three years. I should know better. These look delicious. Can't wait to try them. I love hot crusty bread.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 29, 2017:

Flourish - You had me with "shrimp." I love seafood anytime on anything, but now it's just my husband and me (both daughters are vegetarian) so seafood doesn't appear in our house as often as I would like. I'll bet your dad's version is wonderful. What type of cheese does he use. And are those cajun seasonings, or ???

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 29, 2017:

You are a good artisan to be sure. My dad has his own concoction using shrimp, spices, and melts cheese and it's wonderful.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 28, 2017:

Spanish Food - Your pan con tomate (bread with tomato) looks wonderful. I'll add that to my list of things to do with summer tomatoes fresh from the garden (or, in my case, the Farmers' Market). Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your idea.

Lena Durante from San Francisco Bay Area on April 28, 2017:

Dessert crostini... now there's an idea I've never tried!

What a fun round-up of recipes. The only thing I would add is the Spanish version of bruschetta--pan con tomate. I just posted a recipe for it, myself!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 28, 2017:

RTalloni - This was a fun article to put together; actually I didn't quite know when to stop. There are so many way to make these toasts. I'm glad that I have inspired you. I hope a few others are too.

RTalloni on April 28, 2017:

Thanks for this look at Italian toasts and the recipes with an overview of toppings. Am looking forward to developing some topping using your post as a guide.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 28, 2017:

Rachel - I thought about you when I wrote this, and hoped that it would meet with your approval. Thanks for your kind words and support. I hope you have a great weekend. Hard to believe that May is already just around the corner. The weeks (and years) seem to be a blur. I guess that's because I'm on the other side of the mountain sliding down.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 28, 2017:

I just signed up for you creative corner and will get to your book soon.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on April 27, 2017:

Being Italian, of course, I have had and made crostini/bruschetta, but you have a lot more interesting combinations here. I love every one of them. They are making my mouth water. I will be trying them. Thanks so much for the ideas. I will pin these recipes.

Blessings to you.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 27, 2017:

Eric, do you have my book?

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 27, 2017:

O' my Linda, my mom and I would fix something up from Souvlaki to tacos and munch away and watch Julia. We had Vinegar verses Mustard swaps, who could find the best.

"Food is not food unless it is cherished. Otherwise it is just milk and cereal" was a favorite of hers. We as a people are bound by food, it is the sharing of sustenance via art. It is love made manifest through the growing and metamorphose into art. Breaking bread is the eternal communion in love. I preach love, you preach love through food.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 27, 2017:

Eric - Crostini is such a fun finger food and it can be taken in so many different directions. Want Italian (which of course, is the obvious choice), you can do that. But you can turn it completely upside down and go Asian flavors, Mexican, sweet/savory, dessert, whatever your little heart (and tummy) desires.

I'm thinking wouldn't it be fun to plan a buffet-style party around crostini? Bake the toasts ahead of time and put out an assortment of topping for your friends to make their own original creations.

One version (that I SHOULD have included in this article and just remember this moment) was at the wedding reception for my husband's nephew and his bride. One of the appetizers was crostini with cream cheese, mango chutney (Major Grey's is the best one in my humble opinion), and very thinly sliced turkey breast. The chutney was such an unexpected flavor and made the whole thing really POP!

And, dear friend, I can't believe that you are comparing me to Julia Child. I know that you are younger than me, but I'm pretty sure you must have seen reruns of her "French Chef" series on PBS. I absolutely adore her vitality and spunk and ability to bounce back when something in the kitchen goes wrong--on air and in front of countless viewers!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 27, 2017:

Whahoo, my brain is signaling backwards to my olfactory and the aroma and scent are as real as they can be. You make Julia Childs, God rest her soul, a mere toddler in the sandbox of food.

As I was reading I was noting that if just the finest/organic type stuff is used it fits in with my "diet".

What does it mean "Artisan"?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 27, 2017:

Wow Bill, I honestly did not see that coming. I was almost positive that you'd give me a big thumbs down. Let's see what the rest of our friends have to say. Have a great day--the sun is out.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 27, 2017:

I would eat these. I have eaten them. Case closed and this article was a success. I gets my finicky seal of approval. :)