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Italian Antipasto: Tomato and Basil Bruschetta with Walnut Pesto

“The whole thing is delicious, deeply physical and delightfully undignified” – Nick Harkaway

Delightfully undignified because one bite of an authentic bruschetta should have fresh olive oil drizzling down your chin and chopped tomatoes falling off the bread. A messy way to eat this delicious antipasto, is the only way to enjoy this experience. Dating back to the 15th century, bruschetta (pronounced brus-ketta in Italian) is a sublime appetizer served before a main meal. The essence of a bruschetta is the use of fresh ingredients, especially the olive oil. The bread soaks in the pungent flavors of freshly squeezed olive oil to give a bruschetta its earthy taste. In fact, most areas in Tuscany  serve a bruschetta without any toppings; simply fresh olive oil and garlic. Around the harvest season, trattorias will be bustling with people trying to get their hands on these bruschettas, oozing with olive oil made from a fresh batch of olives.


Tomato and Basil Bruschetta with Walnut Pesto

A balmy spring evening calls for a rendezvous on the patio.  With the chirping birds and sounds of the wind creating the backdrop, light antipastos with cool thirst quenchers complete the evening. As with any Italian recipe, the key to the success of the dish lies in the freshness of the ingredients. For my version of the bruschetta, I chose ripe red tomatoes and aromatic fresh basil leaves. Bruschetta is best eaten just with tomatoes and basil leaves, but my need for experimentation took me a step further to create a walnut and basil pesto. However, one has to be careful not to overpower the flavors of the olive oil and tomatoes, hence just one or two teaspoons of pesto should be mixed with the tomatoes. This gives off a slight hint of the warm flavors of the walnuts and basil leaves.  Most recipes use parmesan cheese in their pesto, but for me that is playing around with too many flavors, hence compromising on the final outcome. For any bruschetta to be a delight, simplicity is key.

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta with Walnut Pesto


For the Bruschetta

  • 1 loaf of French bread, sliced
  • 4-5 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • ¼ cup good quality olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Juice of ½ a lemon

For the Walnut Pesto

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Juice of 1 lime


For the Pesto

  • Add all the ingredients in the food processor and blitz till the mixture becomes fine
  • Pour the olive oil slowly, blitzing after every few minutes, to combine all the ingredients
  • Stop adding the olive oil once the pesto reaches your desired consistency. I prefer the pesto to be slightly more chunky, it adds more flavor
  • Store in a jar till needed

For the Bruschetta:

  • Slice the French bread into one inch thick discs and toast in the oven for about 5 minutes. Make sure the bread is not too hard. The centre of the bread should be slightly spongy
  • Using a brush, paint one side of the bread with garlic paste and olive oil
  • In a bowl add the chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, salt and pepper and about 1-2 tsp of the walnut pesto. Mix well
  • Carefully spoon the tomato mixture on the slices of bread
  • Drizzle some more olive oil and top with chopped basil leaves
  • Serve immediately

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta with Walnut Pesto

Bruschetta tastes best when served immediately. The reason for that is the longer the wait, the more the chances of the bread getting soggy as all the juices from the tomatoes and pesto will seep through.  A multipurpose dish that can be served as an appetizer before dinner or as an hors de oeuvres at a cocktail party, but it is best enjoyed in the comfort of your own home when you let your hands and face get dirty. Keep the tissues at bay, you do not want to miss out on any of the delicious flavors.


Tomato and Basil Bruschetta with Walnut Pesto

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