Pronounced brew-sketta: Italian for toasted, seasoned, and topped bread.
TIME 15 to 20 minutes
MAKES 4 to 8 servings
1 medium loaf any rustic bread (about 1 pound)
Olive oil as needed
1 to 4 garlic cloves, halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Prepare a grill or turn on the broiler; the heat should be medium-high and the rack about 4 inches from the heat source.

2 Trim and slice the bread into at least 8 pieces, each about 1 inch thick. Brush both sides lightly with oil, then grill or broil them, turning once, until browned on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes.

3 While the bread is still hot, rub one or both sides with the garlic. Put the bread on a plate, then drizzle it with olive oil (a teaspoon or so per slice is not too much); sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve warm. (Or you can top the bruschetta with any of the ideas that follow.)

  • Crostini: Essentially large croutons. Use a baguette instead of a rustic loaf. In Step 2, cut the bread crosswise into slices no more than ½ inch thick so you have between 16 and 24 pieces. Brush with the oil and grill or broil or bake them in a 400°F oven, turning once, until they are golden brown on both sides (they will take about half the time of the thicker bruschetta). Rub with garlic if you like (skip the dousing of oil) and top them however you like; see variations that follow.

  • You can use almost any good bread for bruschetta: Pick a loaf that’s crusty on the outside and tender, not too chewy, on the inside. (Just ask for help at the bakery if you don’t know.) You want the center to be moist, without any gaping holes. It can be made of white flour, whole grain, or a mix. Don’t buy presliced bread; it’ll be too thin, and you’ll end up with breakfast toast (which isn’t bad; it’s just not bruschetta).
  • If you just want a scent of garlic, use one clove to rub all eight slices of bread; if you’re a garlic fiend, use four.
  • Use a full-flavored, fresh olive oil for drizzling since that’s the predominant seasoning.

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