Looking for a low maintenance summer entertaining menu? In the past, when entertaining, I have created DIY appetizer bars, taco bars, dessert bars and even cocktail bars which guests love and are less work for me giving me more time to enjoy my company. My guests always are well fed, entertained and don’t get embarrassed if they don’t like a set menu that I may have served that day. Guests can get as creative or as picky as they would like and I always try and pair it with a cocktail station and they really seem to enjoy it.
Today I’m sharing a Build Your Own Bruschetta Bar. Since we are at the peak of summer entertaining season, I thought it would be fun to focus on an appetizer themed station. With a simple set up and some beautiful seasonal produce toppings, this bar will definitely wow your guests. Who needs party decorations when you have a stunning Bruschetta Bar?
Choose your breads for your spreads and toppings.
When choosing your vessel for a bruschetta bar, rustic country bread or crusty baguettes seem to hold up best. Cut slices 1/2-inch-thick, and for baguettes, slice in a diagonal to get longer pieces, which are easier to handle on the grill. Brush the bread with olive oil so it browns more evenly on the grill. A quick way to do this is to coat a baking sheet with olive oil and set the slices on the oil in a single layer. Brush the tops with a little more oil (or flip the slices) and set aside until you’re ready to grill.
The grill should be medium hot. Too hot and the bread will burn; too cool and the bread dries out before it gets nice grill marks. Cut into manageable serving pieces. Be sure to cut the bread while it’s warm or it tends to crack.
Bruschetta Spreads and Toppings
The possibilities for topping bruschetta are virtually endless, but two things are key: Use high-quality ingredients and keep it simple. The number of servings you’ll get out of each topping recipe will depend on how large your bread slices are and how you plan to serve the bruschetta. The yield in each recipe should help you plan. However, I do like to have a few spreads ready to be scooped onto the bread, to encourage the shy (or lazy) guests. From there, they can go as crazy or as minimalist as they want with their bruschetta's.
Spreads & Topping Ideas
What is so great about our products and the Build Your Own Bruschetta is the ease of Gourmet Convenience. I have listed our spreads and topping suggestions.
Bellisari’s Blue Cheese Honey & Shallot Spread - Caramelized Onions, bacon, pancetta, arugula, sundried tomatoes, apples, pears, fresh figs and fresh strawberries.
Bellisari’s Balsamic Shallot Spread - brie, sautéed portabella mushrooms, bacon, pancetta, fresh mozzarella, parmesan cheese, marinated zucchini, melon, pears, strawberries, corn, and roasted peppers.
Bellisari’s Blistered Jalapeno & Fig Spread - pesto, caramelized onions, bacon, brie, pancetta, prosciutto, melon, arugula, figs, apples, roasted corn, and avocado.
Bellisari’s Calabrian and Sweet Tomato Fennel Spread - fresh mozzarella, parmesan, fresh basil, marinated eggplant, white beans, olives or olive tapenade, pesto, prosciutto, salami, arugula, roasted corn and avocado.
Garnish, Garnish, Garnish
Black pepper, Fleur de sel, Fresh Thyme, Fresh Rosemary, Fresh Basil, Fresh or Dry Oregano
Balsamic Vinegar or Balsamic Glaze, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Honey, Almonds, Walnuts and Roasted Garlic.
Remember that many of the items listed above can be made ahead and are better as they marinate.
Presentation is very important on DIY stations, pull out your best linens and serving pieces. I like to set up my bar on an over-sized wood board. It not only looks rustic and stunning, but it also means less dishes, as I get to set up the cheese, meat and bread directly on the board. If you’re feeling fancy, you could go to a craft store and get some chalkboard labels, so you can write the name of the spreads and/or toppings. You could also use a big chalkboard and write some combination ideas and last but not least….wine, wine, wine! One cannot serve bruschetta without wine.