Bruschetta and Crostini are essentially in the same family of Italian appetizers, yet each has its own distinct personality. Add one or the other to your antipasti menu (if you add both it might confuse your customer). Generally speaking, if you are more into Italian fine dining, crostini would be more appropriate. For Italian casual menus, bruschetta is the way to go.
The classic bruschetta (broo-SKEH-tah) preparation is this: Toast or grill thick slices of Italian bread. While the bread is still warm, rub the surface of the bread with a peeled clove of garlic and then dress it lightly with extra-virgin olive oil and some freshly ground pepper (this is the original garlic bread). Properly speaking, this is called fettunta, or bread with olive oil.
A more Americanized version of bruschetta is the addition of chopped fresh tomatoes and torn leaves of fresh basil. To my way of eating, the Americanized version of bruschetta is a lot tastier than the Italian version. More elaborate versions of bruschetta include the addition of chopped olives, capers, a dusting of Parmesan cheese, or even pieces of cured sausage.
The bread for bruschetta should be firm and crusty around the edges, while the middle should be chewy and have a texture that is soft enough to hold up to the grilling or toasting — yet allow for the oil and juices (from, say, the fresh tomatoes) to get soaked up.
Crostini (kroh-STEE-nee) are similar to what we know as canapes. After rounds (or squares or diamonds shapes) of bread (sliced thinner than bruschetta) are toasted, (crostini literally means "toast" in Italian) they are spread or garnished with, for example, anchovies, cheese, seafood, flavored butters and various types of meat.
Bruschetta di Pomodoro
Yield: 12 bruschetta
Slice the bread (about 3/4 inch thick) into 12 pieces. Lay the slices on a sheet pan and toast in the oven (or grill), turning once, until lightly golden brown on both sides. Rub each slice with fresh garlic while still hot.
2 medium ripe fresh tomatoes, cored, seeded, chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
12-18 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
12 slices of the toasted bread
Combine the tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and basil. Spoon the mixture evenly among the slices of bread. Sprinkle on the Parmesan. Generally, three slices to a serving works fine.
Crostini di Olive e Formaggio
Yield: 12 crostini
12 slices of bread, sliced abut 1/2-inch thick, toasted on both sides
3/4 cup pitted black olives (Kalamata or California ripe black)
4 Anchovy filets
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Chop the olives and the anchovies together. Add the olive oil and garlic, then toss to combine. Spread an equal amount of the topping on each slice of bread. Sprinkle a small amount of mozzarella over the olive spread. Put the crostini in the oven (or under the broiler) to melt the cheese. Serve at once, about 3 pieces to a serving.
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