Bruschetta, which is simply grilled bread topped with something, is the ideal party food: easy to make, serve, and eat. The three toppings used here—classic tomato, garlic, and basil; sautéed mushrooms with Parmesan; and grilled balsamic onions with mozzarella—are guaranteed crowd-pleasers. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and drizzle with a little olive oil just before serving.
Bruschetta with Three Toppings
2 cups (12 oz./375 g) chopped tomatoes and/or quartered cherry tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 lb. (500 g) cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1⁄4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) red wine vinegar
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) low-sodium beef broth
4 fresh thyme sprigs
Grilled Balsamic Onions (see below), chopped
1 tsp. chopped fresh sage
12 slices country-style bread, such as sourdough batard
1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb. (500 g) fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into thin slices
To make the tomato topping, in a bowl, mix together the tomatoes, half the garlic, and the basil and season with salt and pepper. Add a glug of oil and toss to mix, then set aside. (The topping can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated.)
To make the mushroom topping, in a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter foams, add the mushrooms, toss to coat, and then cook for 4–5 minutes without stirring. Turn and cook for 4–5 minutes longer. Be patient. You want the mushrooms to be golden brown and slightly crisp. Do not salt. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl. Return the pan to medium heat and add a little oil. When it shimmers, add the shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cloves minced garlic and cook for another minute. Return the mushrooms to the pan, add the vinegar, and cook until reduced, about 3 minutes. Add the broth and thyme and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated, 5–8 minutes. Remove from the heat, remove and discard the thyme sprigs, and set aside. (The mushroom mixture can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.)
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium heat. Brush and oil the grill grate.
To make the onion topping, prepare the grilled balsamic onions. Combine the balsamic onions and sage and toss to mix.
Place the bread slices on the grill directly over the fire and cook, turning once, until toasted and grill marked, about 2 minutes on each side.
Transfer the bread slices to platters or trays. Top one-third of the grilled bread slices with the tomato topping. Top half of the remaining grilled bread slices with the mushroom mixture, then sprinkle evenly with Parmesan and return to the grill until the cheese starts to sweat, 2–3 minutes. Top the remaining grilled bread slices with the mozzarella and onion mixture and return to the grill until the cheese softens, about 3 minutes. Serve at once. Serves 6 to 12.
Grilled Balsamic Onions
Prepare a grill for direct grilling over medium heat. Brush and oil the grill grate. Soak 4 to 6 wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. Slice 2 red onion into thick rings. Slide a skewer horizontally through the midpoint of each onion slice. This will ensure the slices hold together and will make turning them on the grill easier. Place the onions on the grill directly over the fire and cook, turning once, for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. You want the onions nicely charred, but you also want them to still have a little of the red coloring. Slice the onion slices off the skewers into a bowl and separate the slices into rings. Immediately add 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) balsamic vinegar and toss the onions to coat evenly. Let stand, tossing occasionally, for at least 30 minutes before using.
Grilling authority Fred Thompson shares this and more than 100 other delicious recipes in his book Williams-Sonoma Grill Master.