For the love of bread: 4 ways to make bruschetta

No social event is complete without canapés. We all have our favourites, but few come close to bruschetta. A favourite of many chefs and cooks, it’s a dependable canapé that delivers most of the time.

Traditionally, bruschetta consists of toasted bread with garlic and olive oil and salt. Over time variations have appeared and bruschetta now includes toppings such as meat, salmon, cheese, vegetables and tomatoes.

Bruschetta, which is an Italian antipasto, is usually best prepared with Italian breads, like ciabatta. Sourdough bread, baguettes and French loaves also work really well. The crustier the bread, the better.

We love it because it allows us to use stale bread, thereby curbing food waste.

There are no rules with bruschetta, except to make sure that you choose quality bread. Also, make sure that your bread and topping is not too dry. Not one wants to eat a dry piece of toast with dry topping. That’s a recipe for getting your bruschetta stuck in your throat.

Toast the bread, brushed with olive oil, either in a griddle pan or in the oven.

Although the bread can be toasted in advance, I wouldn’t leave it for more than a few days; any longer and it’s likely to become hard and stale.

If you are looking for new bruschetta ideas, this story is for you. From the steak-and-blue-cheese topping and pea-and-feta hummus, to the artichoke and an olive tapenade, these bruschetta recipes will make your parties start on the right foot.

ARTICHOKE BRUSCHETTA (Makes 1 loaf)

Ingredients

250g tub of cream cheese

250ml mayonnaise

125ml chopped artichoke hearts

60ml chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1 bunch of spring onions, finely chopped

250ml grated mozzarella cheese

125ml grated Parmesan cheese

5ml garlic salt

2ml pepper

1 loaf of plain rusticata baguette

60ml extra grated mozzarella

Method

In a bowl combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, artichoke, sun-dried tomatoes, spring onions, cheeses, garlic salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.

Cut the loaf lengthways down the centre and place on a baking tray.

Divide the mixture between the two halves and spread all the way to the edges.

Sprinkle with extra mozzarella, then grill until golden and bubbling.

Slice and serve.

Olive Tapenade Crostini. Picture: Chris Collingridge

OLIVE TAPENADE CROSTINI (Makes 15-20)

Ingredients

500ml kalamata olives, pitted

5 anchovy fillets, drained and rinsed

5ml chopped garlic

30ml capers, drained and rinsed

45ml lemon juice

60ml olive oil

1 large French baguette, sliced

olive oil for brushing

1 ripe tomato, seeded and finely diced

Method

Place the olives, anchovies, garlic, capers and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse to form a rough paste. With the machine running, pour in the olive oil.

Brush the slices of bread with olive oil and place on a baking tray.

Bake at 200°C for 5 minutes.

Remove and serve topped with the tapenade and finely diced tomato.

Pea and Feta Hummus on Rye. Picture: Chris Collingridge

PEA AND FETA HUMMUS ON RYE (Makes 12-14)

Ingredients

500ml frozen peas

3ml ground coriander

60ml chopped mint

60ml tahini paste

60ml lemon juice

30ml olive oil

200g feta cheese

salt and pepper to taste

rye bread for serving

olive oil for brushing

Method

Place the peas in a pot with boiling water to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes or until the peas are tender.

Drain and rinse under cold water to retain the colour.

Place the peas in a food processor or blender with all the remaining ingredients except the bread. Pulse the mixture to form a fairly smooth paste.

Brush the bread with olive oil on both sides and cook on a griddle pan until toasted.

Pile the pea mixture on to the toasted bread and sprinkle with some extra feta if desired.

NOTE: If you don’t have a processor or blender, mash the peas with a potato masher until smooth and mix in the remaining ingredients.

Steak and Blue Cheese Bruschetta. Picture: Chris Collingridge

STEAK AND BLUE CHEESE BRUSCHETTA (Makes 10-12)

Ingredients

500g steak, rump, sirloin or rib eye

olive oil

salt and black pepper

125ml mayonnaise

200g blue cheese, crumbled

5ml chopped garlic

5ml Dijon mustard

45ml chopped chives

1 ciabatta loaf, sliced

rocket leaves

1 avocado, sliced

a few cherry tomatoes, halved

fresh figs, sliced (if available)

Method

Rub the steak with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Cook over high heat on a griddle pan until medium rare.

Remove and set aside to rest for 20 minutes. Slice thinly.

Combine the mayonnaise, cheese, garlic, mustard and chives and mix well until smooth.

Taste and season if necessary.

Rub the slices of bread with olive oil and either toast in the oven at 200°C for 5-7 minutes or on a griddle pan.

Place rocket leaves on the bread. Top with a few slices of meat.

Add a few slices of avocado, a cherry tomato, and a fig if using. Drizzle over the cheese sauce.