Bruschetta is an Italian classic loved by millions of people around the world. It is commonly served as a side dish, appetizer, or as a delicious alternative to snack foods.
There are endless variations of bruschetta served globally. Still, the most traditional form is the most popular. Slices of baguette are toasted, brushed with garlic-infused olive oil, topped with a mixture of diced tomatoes and basil served hot off the fire.
With so few ingredients used, each must give its best to create a dish that is more than the sum of its parts. Of course, the bread and tomatoes should be the freshest available in your area, and most people have their preferred garlic variety and olive oil. That only leaves the basil to be chosen.
In this guide, we will:
- Help you decide on the best basil for making bruschetta.
- Offer some alternative for basil on bruschetta.
- Discuss the pros and cons of using fresh vs. dried basil on bruschetta.
So What’s the Best Basil for Bruschetta?
What’s the Best Basil for Bruschetta is a difficult question to answer. There are over 150 forms of culinary basil available. Each has its particular flavor profile.
Of even greater variety is people’s palates. Any dish will taste slightly different to each person, and to further complicate the issue, each individual has their preferences.
You are more than welcome to use spicy Purple or Holy Basil on bruschetta if that suits your taste, but if cooking for other people, you might be better advised to stay with more classic varieties like:
- Italian Large Leaf.
1. Sweet Basil
Sweet Basil is the most popular variety in the United States for some excellent reasons. Its light licorice flavor and gentle clove fragrance enhance almost any type of dish. When used on bruschetta, Sweet Basil highlights the tomato’s natural sweetness and softens pungent garlic’s edges.
2. Italian Large Leaf
Italian Large Leaf is the most classic basil available. It has a sweet, mild flavor making it a joy to work with as it rarely becomes overpowering. Whether you choose to shred, grind or use it whole, Italian Large Leaf makes delicious bruschetta.
Genovese is an Italian heirloom type with an anise flavor and sweet clove fragrance that is slightly stronger than Sweet Basil but not exceptionally so. Genovese basil is one of the best options available for traditional bruschetta recipes and has the advantage of very flat leaves that can be used as bedding for other bruschetta toppings.
Lemon Basil is an Indonesian variety that has gained popularity in Italian cuisine over the last few decades. As you might expect, it has a lemony scent and sweet-tart flavor that seems to make other ingredients a little more lively. It is akin to a citrus spritz that also adds crunch.
What can I use instead of basil in bruschetta?
If you use anything other than basil, it won’t be a traditional Italian bruschetta. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be bruschetta. Bruschetta has become more of a technique or style than a specific dish. There are even dessert bruschetta recipes, and a variety of herbs and greens are now regularly used in place of basil in bruschetta.
Greens that can replace basil in bruschetta:
- Baby Kale
Herbs that can be used instead of basil in bruschetta:
Can you substitute dried basil for fresh basil in bruschetta?
Dried basil can definitely be substituted for fresh basil in bruschetta. There are few things to keep in mind, though. Dried basil has a more pungent smell and taste than fresh. It will take about a third less dried basil than you would use fresh basil to deliver the same taste.
It would be best to remember that dried basil has a texture very different from fresh leaves. If not mixed well and allowed to rehydrate sufficiently, it can leave a gritty feeling in the mouth. Allow dried basil to sit with wetter ingredients for a few minutes before heating and serving.