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Bruschetta Toppings

Yes, bruschettas have their origins in Italy, but some kind of bread, toasted with delicious toppings are found all over - here in France, it is a great way to use up day old baguette which are just too good to throw away (and there are only so many breadcrumbs you need in the freezer). The traditional topping is a raw tomato, garlic, and basil combo but there are so many options. Below are some of my faves and I serve some at the Sunset Apéro here at Château George 7 - with toppings varying according to season. I love these because all the toppings can be prepped in advance before guests arrive then heated, spread, grilled (or not!) et voilà! Something for everyone. 

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The Base

Various options for the base :​

  • Specific bruschetta breads - large oval ones sold in packs at the supermarket​ which you toast and smother whole, then cut into portions with a pizza cutter wheel

  • Day-old baguette, cut into1.5-2cm thick slices on the diagonal and toasted or baked in the oven.

  • Toasted slices of sourdough or even half a ciabatta cut through horizontally

All of these should be toasted or griddled (for charred lines across) or baked in the oven then scrape a raw garlic clove backwards and forwards across the surface (easy when toasted/baked). For some toppings I grill or bake the base having drizzled them with a touch of olive oil to stop them getting too crispy, but I don't where the topping is quite wet - no-one likes a soggy bottom! 

  • For a gluten-free option, stir 140g of polenta into 700ml of simmering stock and cook for about 5 minutes until thickened. Season and for interest, stir in some fresh herbs of your choice - could be basil or coriander or 'Herbes de Provence' blend. Spread out on an oiled tin, leave to set then cut into serving size slices, brush with a touch of olive oil and grill or griddle each side for a few minutes until golden and crispy.

Toppings

​Prep in advance and if a hot topping, make it ready in a pyrex bowl and heat in the microwave when ready :

  • Mushrooms sautéed in a touch of butter or olive oil with some crushed garlic, add handfuls of fresh parsley and loads of black pepper. Finish with a large spoon of crème fraiche. With only a small amount of cream to bind, then this pairs wonderfully with a red wine. If you go mad with the cream then an oaked, textured white would work too.

  • Red Onion Marmalade at room temperature spread across then topped with goat's cheese rounds and grilled, scatter with fresh thyme when serving. Again a light, chilled red merlot - perfecto!

  • Roast whatever veg you have in the fridge with some herbes de provence - courgettes, peppers, red onions, aubergines and even throw in some cherry tomatoes towards the end so they just pop and squish slightly. Reheat and serve as is, or with some mozzarella melted on top.

  • Cook broad beans either on their own or with peas and mange tout - just more than blanched but not overcooked. Then skin the broad beans by squeezing between your thumb and finger (really worth the fiddle). Very gently mash down the beans and peas so that still have some shape, mix with olive oil, touch of lemon zest, fresh herbs and season. Use as is with tons of black pepper or spread the base with some hummus or burrata or sprinkle feta over the top. Wonderful with a crisp white wine.

  • Goat's cheese (either a roll of goats cheese mashed down with some greek yogurt or soft cheese spread as it is), slices of skinned peach (blanch and skin the whole peach as you would a tomato) arranged on top then drizzled with balsamic vinegar and some rocket leaves - just wonderful with a sauvignon blanc based white wine.

  • Drain a jar of artichokes - halved or quartered and mix with some lemon zest, fresh chopped mint (or whatever fresh herbs you have to hand) and a pinch of chilli flakes and seasoning. You can use as is, or stir through some parmesan shavings before loading onto the base.

Suggested pairings 

Wendy. Chill a light red wine or a Clairet, I love the ranges from Château Lestrille or nearby Château Theuilley, both are from women wine makers in the Entre Deux Mers and offer a choice from light to dark pinks and red.  They are so versatile and will match well with any of these toppings. ​

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