Happy 4th of July! Whether you’re making chicken, steak, fish, ribs or hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill, why not start off with a delicious and easy grilled bruschetta? You’re going to be grilling anyway, so why not? Trust me, it’s simple and the results are so worth it. And your guests will rave. While I have nothing against putting out the usual chips and dips beforehand, this recipe will start off your BBQ with a bang. The simple, fresh ingredients of this quick appetizer really let the flavors of summer shine through. Yep, I’ll say it….this grilled bruschetta appetizer will elevate your BBQ.
Couple tips before you start: I think doing the bread on the grill puts this bruschetta over the top. I think grilling is so much better than broiling or toasting. Just buy a baguette or ciabatta loaf of your choice and slice. Be careful not to slice your bread too thick or too thin; about a half inch should be perfect.
When you cut basil, just roll the leaves on top of each other and slice thinly, julienne-style. Easy and pretty!
Lastly, assemble the tomato/olive oil/basil topping at least an hour in advance so the flavors combine. I also finish the bruschetta with a balsamic glaze, rather than with pure balsamic. It’s easy to overdo balsamic and when that happens the fresh flavors of the tomato and basil get overpowered and the bread can get soggy.
NOTE: How many does this feed? I always love that question…my answer to that is “how hungry are you?” My nephew can sometimes polish off at least three servings of things, so I guess I’d say this recipe feeds 2-3 with each person having a few pieces. Have big eaters or not serving any other appetizer? Double the recipe.
Baguettes come in all sizes and thicknesses, so the ingredients listed below are for half of that regular size baguette (10-12 inches) we all pick up at grocery stores. If you are just serving one or two, buy a smaller baguette or if you have a crowd, pick up a larger one (or buy two regular size) and adjust the tomato/olive oil/basil mixture accordingly. If you love tomatoes, add more; if you’re iffy on tomatoes….go easy on them and maybe add some cheese on top (read below.) Use these proportions as a guideline and just eyeball it…you can’t screw it up! I promise, whatever you do, it will taste delicious. What’s not to love about bread, tomatoes, olive oil and basil?
1/2 of a baguette or smaller ciabatta loaf
3-4 plum tomatoes, diced (can substitute other types of tomatoes as well; with bigger tomatoes, you will need fewer)
3-4 T olive oil plus more for brushing
1/2 tsp minced garlic (can be omitted if you are anti-garlic)
6 basil leaves, rolled and sliced julienne style.
Salt and pepper, to taste
Prepare tomato mixture by combining diced tomato, 3 T olive oil, garlic and basil in bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for at least an hour to let flavors mingle. As the tomatoes marinate, you will magically have a bit more liquid in the bowl. Don’t be tempted to over-oil here as you don’t want the tomatoes to swim in the olive oil. If you are using smaller tomatoes, you might need less oil. But it’s really a matter of personal preference.
Lightly brush each piece (on both sides) with olive oil and put on a medium-hot gas grill, grilling both sides so they get golden and have grill marks. If you’re using a charcoal grill, you’ll probably want to put them slightly off-center so they don’t grill too quickly and burn. Watch the bread carefully as the last thing you want is burnt bruschetta. Either way, check the first side after about a minute or so, and turn over when they are lightly browned. Grill the other side.
Remove from the grill and spoon a bit of tomato mixture on top of each piece. Lightly drizzle the balsamic glaze over each, put on a plate and you’re good to go.
AMP IT UP
Want to elevate your BBQ even further? Create a little bruschetta bar and have guests assemble their own appetizers. Put the grilled bread on a large pretty platter with the tomato mixture in a cute bowl in the center. You could go more Caprese-y and add a small bowl of sliced mozzarella cut from mozzarella balls, or small bowls of other favorite cheeses like shredded parmesan, crumbled feta or maybe even spoonfuls of ricotta.
Other ideas: put out little bowls of arugula dressed with a tiny bit of olive oil, lemon and salt or smashed avocados with a little olive oil, salt and lime juice (or to simplify, use a good quality, store-bought guacamole.) People can add as little or as much of the toppings as they like and here’s the bonus…it will keep them occupied while you run around and get the rest of dinner together.