I think bruschetta gets a bad rep in Britain, mainly because they usually consist of some bland, anaemic tomatoes on a piece of soggy cotton-wool bread.
This isn't complex food, but they can be absolutely delicious if done right and are perfect for aperitivo time.
First off, use nice crusty bread. Second, toast it so it dries out a bit and can hold your toppings nicely. Third, rub a garlic clove that you've cut in half on the surface of the bread to give the whole thing a flavour boost. Then it's topping time. Think simple - these don't need to be complicated, but they do need to be briliant flavour combos.
Mascarpone & Anchovy - creamy, salty, savoury, delicious. Trust me, this is amazing. Spread the mascarpone on thick, then top with an anchovy and a grind of black pepper. Simple, but a real revelation!
Parmigiano Cheese & Honey - Salty cheese with sweet honey, it works so well. You can use Grana Padano too (it's cheaper), or a mature pecorino would be great. We use truffle honey, but it ain't easy to find!
Peach, Mozzarella & Prosciutto - A kind of twist on the melon and parma ham vibe. The fruit is great with rich mozzarella and cured ham. Just pop a little of all the ingredients on the bread, drizzle with oil and top with a few basil leaves.
Roasted Fennel & Orange - This is a blinding combo. Cut your fennel into wedges and roast in the oven with salt, sugar and balsamic vinegar until soft and beautiflly sweet. Mix with a few segments of orange (the two go together so well), and drizzle with some olive oil.
Zucchini, Mint & Ricotta Cheese - Cut the zucchini lengthways and griddle (or put under the grill) until you’ve got some good colour going on and they’re cooked through. Toss in a bowl with torn up fresh mint, salt, olive oil and white wine vinegar. Put on your toasts and top with the ricotta. Delicious and light!
Pumpkin & Soft Goat’s Cheese - Autumn is here so it would be rude not to get the sweet and earthy pumpkin involved. Cut into thick slices, sprinkle with salt, oil and thyme, and roast in a medium oven until the flesh is really soft. Spoon the flesh into a bowl and mix well with Parmesan cheese and a few spoons of soft goat’s cheese. You should now have a puree-type mixture. Spread on the bruschetta, and bingo!