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  • The Chopping Blog

Boast about Your Bruschetta Board

Posted by Barb on Aug 26, 2021
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Do you ever think about where words for food come from? There is more to it than just the etymology to consider, there is also a semantic shift.

The word bruschetta is a great example. When most of us think of bruschetta, we think a variation of chopped tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil on toasty bread. I think if we did a survey, a lot of people would agree with this definition…. but it is not the tomatoes that define bruschetta, it is actually all about the bread!

The word bruschetta (plural bruschette) came from the Roman word bruscare which loosely means to roast/toast over coals. The shift in the name started to expand as Italians would drizzle this toasty bread with freshly pressed olive oil. If the olive oil wasn’t flavorful enough, the bread was then rubbed with some garlic and maybe a sprinkle of salt. Next thing you know, everyone is taking this bread out with them as an energy boost during a hard day of work.

The timeline of when people started putting toppings on bruschetta and the shift of the definition is not as clear. I think it became infamous after one farmer grabbed a tomato too forcefully and he used the bread in his back pocket to clean the tomatoey goodness off his hands. One taste was all it took and history was made! (I just made the last paragraph up to see if one day ends up in Wikipedia.)

Now if you just read that historical fiction and want to share it with your friends (and you should), may I suggest doing so over a beautiful bruschetta board? A bruschetta board is a way to share an array of great toppings over crispy grilled or toasted bread that is slathered in rich olive oil and rubbed generously with fresh garlic.

sliced bread-2For the ultimate bruschetta board success, you need three things:

  • Grilled/toasted bread variety
  • Toppings
  • Bruschetta Buddies (aka garnishes)



To start, the bread.

  • You can use a variety breads in narrow loaves. I used a basic Italian, ciabatta and this amazing brown bread I found at the bakery.
  • Slices should be no thicker than a quarter of an inch.
  • The oil can be drizzled or brushed. (I like to oil one side and then lay them out on a baking sheet. I oil the other side right before they go on the grill or in the oven.)
  • Do not cook them until you are just ready to serve your board!
  • Grill over medium high heat. If a ground squirrel has made a home in your grill, your broiler or panini press makes a great alternative. (Unfortunately, this was not made up.)
  • You goal is to make them a little crispy and a little chewy. (Test a slice to come up with your perfect timing since every oven/grill varies.)
  • Once they are done to your liking, rub with a raw garlic clove and sprinkle with some good sea salt.
  • Give the bread its own board next to all the toppings. This keeps it from accidentally getting soggy and will let it shine as the vessel of happiness.

bread on grill


The toppings are only limited by your imagination. As a gardener with tomatoes coming out of my ears, I made three different tomato varieties with different vinegars and an array of fresh herbs:

  1. Basic: 1 cup chopped Roma tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 chopped up clove of garlic, 1 tablespoon balsamic and 6 big basil leaves.
  2. Yellow: 1 cup yellow Roma tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar and 3 tablespoons purple basil.
  3. Spicy: 1 cup grape tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, juice of 1 lime, 1 jalapeño and 1/4 cup cilantro.

I’m a little heavy with my vinegar, so add more or less to your liking.

bruschetta toppingsThe next topping I made was lemon cannellini beans. A nice way to add some protein without turning your bruschetta board into a charcuterie board.


Lemon Cannellini Beans

Makes: 8 servings as an appetizer


1-15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Juice and zest of one lemon

2 tablespoons of parsley

Salt and pepper


In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Let sit for at least 15 minutes so the beans absorb some of the lemon juice but don’t become mushy. Before serving, use a slotted spoon to put in the serving bowl.  

One of the yummiest things I put on my board was some garlic confit. I had “accidently” bought one of those big box store bags of peeled garlic. I had a full cup of peeled cloves so I placed them into a small casserole dish and covered the cloves with olive oil. A couple of sprigs of thyme and fresh oregano were in there too. Cooked low (300 degrees) and slow (1.5 hours) and out comes the richest, sweetest garlic bulbs you’ve ever had. (If you have any leftover, it must be stored in the fridge.)

Before cooking:

garlic confitAfter cooking:

garlic confitAnd as tempting as it is to store this on the counter… remember your food safety rules on cooling and storing.

One of our toppings was chopped up cucumbers (Persian and lemon), shallots, dill and red wine vinegar placed strategically next to some hummus. Classic!

bruschetta board-1

Bruschetta Buddies

Bruschetta buddies are the last thing you add to the board. Place all your toppings on the board and think of the buddies as accessories. Don’t have too many and make some thoughtful choices, but have some fun with it, too.


  • Scatter some smaller tomatoes like the Candyland variety or some grape tomatoes on the board.
  • Sprigs of fresh basil, cilantro, parsley or dill. (Although rosemary and oregano springs are pretty, they are a little rough to chew so leave those off.)
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Sliced olives or a nice tapenade
  • Teardrop peppers
  • Pearls of mozzarella
  • Cruets of olive oil and vinegar
  • Salt and pepper grinders

Now sit back and enjoy the glory of a beautiful board!

bruschetta board on tableThe moral of my story is that we should keep bread in our pants because you never know what you’ll discover. Nope, that isn’t it, but it is an interesting theory!

The point is that knowing the origin of how a food starts out shouldn’t limit us to just the one thing (example toasted bread), it should be the springboard that allows us to keep food evolving as our tastes change. (Yep, that’s a much better moral.)

A class like Flavor Dynamics (Lincoln Square, September 4, 11am-1pm) is a great way to learn the key to unlock great combinations that can be shared on a board.

Or if you take one of the many in-person, outdoor grilling classes at Lincoln Square such as Grilling Boot Camp, this Saturday August 28, 10am-4pm) you could probably ask for some great bread grilling hints. 

See our class calendar

Topics: appetizer, basil, bruschetta, appetizers, entertaining, Recipes, tomato, bread, bruschetta board

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