(posted by Sir Oliver, from a Delia Smith Cookbook, see about basil in the Spice Encyclopedia)

Bruschetta is a very special type of toasted bread, pronounced ‘brusketta’. When I first tasted the real thing in Tuscany, it was one of the most memorable eating experiences of my life. Italian country bread is toasted on both sides over hot, fragrant coals, then slashes are made along the surface of each piece of bread, which is then rubbed with an open clove of garlic. After that, peppery Italian extra virgin olive oil is poured over quite generously so that it runs into the bread, making little pools all around the base of the plate. The pleasure and joy in its utter simplicity are indescribable. Good bread, good olive oil – what more could you want? Just two things: very red, ripe plum tomatoes and basil leaves. It’s perhaps the best bruschetta of all, and perfect for serving with drinks before a meal instead of serving as a starter. Given that few of us have hot coals handy (though don’t forget bruschetta during the barbecue season), the next best thing is a cast-iron ridged griddle or, failing that, an ordinary domestic grill.

Makes 12, to serve 4-6


1 ciabatta loaf, cut in 12 thin slices
1 clove garlic, peeled and rubbed in a little salt
about 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the topping:

6 red, ripe plum tomatoes
a few torn basil leaves
a few drops extra virgin olive oil
rock salt and freshly milled black pepper

You will also need a cast-iron ridged griddle.

Prepare the tomatoes before toasting the bread. All you do is place them in a bowl, pour boiling water over them and leave for exactly 1 minute before draining them and slipping off the skins (protect your hands with a cloth if they are too hot). Then chop them finely.

Pre-heat the ridged griddle over a high heat for about 10 minutes. When it’s really hot, place the slices of bread – on the diagonal – and grill them for about 1 minute on each side, until they’re golden and crisp and have charred strips across each side. (Alternatively, toast them under a conventional grill.) Then, as they are ready, take a sharp knife and quickly make about 3 little slashes across each one, rub the garlic in and drizzle about half a tablespoon of olive oil over each one.

When the bruschetta are made, top with the tomatoes and basil leaves, season with salt and freshly milled black pepper and sprinkle a few more drops of olive oil over before serving. It’s hard to believe that something so simple can be so wonderful.

(courtesy of Delia Smith’s How To Cook)