Food history is one of my secret passions. I love delving into the past, discovering how we came to eat what we eat, and what we indulged in centuries ago. Food has been such a prominent part of our lives for so many years and there is almost always a story somewhere along the lines.
Take bruschetta for instance. This favoured appetizer dates back to the early 15th century (600 years ago!) when olive farmers would sample their goods on a piece of bread cooked over coals. Over time, the olive oil was combined with garlic, eventually tomato was added and finally basil crowned it all to create a pre-dinner nibble. Many years later we are now topping grilled breads with a variety of toppings making bruschetta the most requested appetizer in modern day kitchens.
Personally, I can't think of a single event where this toasty bread with flavourful toppings wouldn't be a welcome addition to the menu. Even better than serving pieces of these dainties would be to set-up a bruschetta bar - baskets of fresh grilled breads served with an assortment of veggies, cheese, spreads, meats etc. A do-it-yourself food station where guests can customize their plates based on their own palates.
Here are few tips on how to organize a bruschetta bar for your summer entertaining:
- Toast slices of bread on a panini maker, indoor grill pan or bbq. This can be done an hour or so in advance of serving.
- Remove toasts and rub both side of bread with a garlic clove.
- Set out grilled-breads in large napkin-lined wicker baskets
- Place colourful bottles of olive oil close to the baskets and include small bowls of an assortment of dressings.
- Possible topping combinations include:
Corn, tomato and avocado with lime, olive oil, salt and pepper
Mixed mushrooms with balsamic, honey and a splash of cream
White bean puree with bacon pieces
Fava beans, mint and goat cheese
Red peppers, olives, capers and feta
From bridal showers to family reunions, and neigbourhood barbecues to cocktail parties, a bruschetta bar is a winning combination for any warm-weather gathering. And who knows, you just might make history with your fantastic approach to entertaining.