The perfect starter, a meal in itself.
1 round loaf of country bread (not too dense)
6 garlic cloves, halved
1 cup great extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Prepare a moderately hot charcoal fire.
2. Cut the middle portion of the round loaf into 6 long slices, each one almost 1-inch thick. Cut these slices in half, making half-slices that are roughly 3 inch X 3 inch X 1 inch.
3. When fire is ready, place the 12 slices over it in a single layer. Cook, turning once, until the outsides of the bread are golden brown (with grill marks, if possible). This should take about 2 minutes per side, but check frequently to make sure the bread isn't burning.
4. When the bread slices are done, rub the edges and both sides, with a cut clove of garlic lightly or heavily, depending on your garlic preference. Place the slices on a large platter in a single layer. Sprinkle each slice with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, breaking the surface of the bread lightly with a spoon to let the oil soak in. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the slices over and repeat the procedure. Let the slices sit in the olive oil for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve as is for simple bruschetta, or top with other foods.
Good all by itself or topped with grilled peppers, tapenade, tomatoes and basil—a base for your creativity. Makes 12 bruschette