Honestly, I’d written it off as a matter of semantics. You say tow-may-tow, I say tow-mah-tow, that kind of thing. Because I mean, consider the stats: Both dishes are of Italian origin and follow the same basic formula of savory or sweet topping served on a slice of toasted bread. Right? Am I crazy? What am I missing here?
Well, it turns out what I was missing had to do with the bread—the type, size, and toasting method, to be exact. Bruschetta, which comes from the Italian word bruscare (aka “to roast over coals”), is traditionally made using a thick slice of rustic Italian or sourdough-style bread. And, as the origin of the name suggests, the slices were typically grilled over a fire to achieve a nice, crunchy char. In its most basic, traditional version, the grilled bread is rubbed with a clove of raw garlic, quickly showered in good-quality olive oil, and seasoned with thick flakes of salt. This is called Fett’unta, and most would agree it’s the best garlic bread you’ll ever taste.
Crostini (aka “little toasts”), on the other hand, is rarely, if ever, eaten without a topping or spread. The bread used is usually smaller and more round-shaped, like a baguette, and is cut into significantly thinner slices. Toasting usually takes place on a baking sheet in the oven.
So in the end it wasn’t all that egregious of a misunderstanding. Check out the following recipes to really celebrate what truly unites and equalizes these two: How tasty and versatile they are.
When you have a dish that can be interpreted as widely and creatively as bruschetta, the sheer volume of choice in direction can be overwhelming. So why not keep it simple, chef, and start with the classic tomato version? Diced juicy-sweet tomatoes and aromatic basil piled onto a slice of garlic and olive oil-rubbed crusty bread: Who needs more than that? Get our Tomato Bruschetta recipe.
Do you ever look at the components of Caprese salad and think, “This is great and all, but where the heck are my carbs?” Cool, me too. Thankfully, this recipe for burrata and cherry tomato bruschetta presents an elegant, cocktail party-friendly solution. The creamy, oozier style of mozzarella gets an A+ score for spreadability, and is the perfect foil for the concentrated flavor of the roasted cherry tomatoes. (Of course, if burrata isn’t your thing—hey, to each their own—the concept works just as well with a firmer style of mozzarella.) Get the recipe.
Bruschetta is one of those great blank canvas concepts that adapts easily to whatever bounty the season has to offer. In the fall, you might turn to a mixture of spiced apple and butternut squash as a topping. Winter might take you to a variation topped with braised greens like kale, or richly sauced mushrooms. By spring, you can dress it up with earthy peas and ricotta or snappy grilled asparagus. And, of course in the summer, best to keep it light and bright and fresh with everyone’s favorite: Fresh corn. This elote-inspired bruschetta cleverly combines chili-lime marinated corn kernels with mild queso fresco to create a can’t-help-but-love-it summer starter. Get the recipe.
Desperately raiding your pantry for quick culinary inspiration because your pals just texted that they’re popping by for a quick drink and snack? Grab the cans of tuna, cannellini beans, and loaf of Italian bread, follow these instructions, and you’ve got yourself a bruschetta that tastes like it was thoroughly well-planned and not just thrown together. Get our Tuna and Cannellini Bean Bruschetta recipe.
If you think bruschetta is only suitable as early evening hors d’oeuvres, I am not sorry to tell you that your are sorely mistaken. Take this recipe, for example: Soft, fontina-laced scrambled eggs and crispy strips of deliciously salty, savory salami come together over grilled bread as a delightfully brunchable dish. (Pssst. Insider tip: You can get creative with poached eggs here too.) Get our Breakfast Bruschetta with Fontina-Scrambled Eggs and Salami recipe.
Get a glimpse of bruschetta’s sweet side with this dessert-appropriate rendition. Sweet, Frangelico-spiked mascarpone cheese fills in at the base in place of the typical mozzarella or ricotta, and is then topped with slices of ripe peach, honey drizzle, and chopped hazelnuts. Get our Peach and Hazelnut Mascarpone Bruschetta recipe.
Save this one for when your die-hard Italian food-loving friends come over. The traditional antipasti snack is a celebration of bold, pungent flavors, combining ingredients like chicken liver, anchovy, and capers into one wonderfully savory spread. Get our Chicken Liver Crostini recipe.
Give the bagel a break and instead enjoy its frequent partners—smoked salmon and herbed cheese—on a crostini. Slices of crisp radish and cucumber are introduced here as well to provide a welcome layer of freshness and texture. Get the recipe.
Take your crostini on a detour through Spain with this sweet and savory rendition. The opposites-attract combo of sugary quince paste, salty slices of Serrano ham, and Manchego cheese shavings is a fail-safe cocktail party winner. Get our Serrano Ham and Membrillo Crostini recipe.
Turn the volume up on your tapenade game with this easy-to-make, textured spread that hits all the flavor high notes. Salty and briny from the combination of black olives and capers is tempered nicely by the mild, delicate flavor of the artichoke hearts, while the garlicky crostini base provides the requisite crunch. Get the recipe.
Why limit your topping inspiration to one vegetable, when you can have a medley? This summer veg-driven ratatouille emphasizes freshness and clarity of flavor by simply seasoning the mixture of diced zucchini, eggplant, red onion, and tomato with lemon and basil. Get our Ratatouille Crostini recipe.
Roasting improves upon the perfect, simple sweetness of fresh figs by adding a subtle caramelized flavor. Pair that with rich ricotta, a little honey, and chopped pistachios for texture, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a perfect dessert crostini. And when the season has passed, give it a go with fig jam instead. Get the recipe.