Cannellini (or White) Bean Bruschetta are earthy, flavorful, easy to prepare and beautiful on the plate – in other words, the perfect appetizer to serve at your next party! Slices of toasted or grilled bread are spread with a rustic purée of cannellini beans, fresh garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, then topped with chopped toasted walnuts and a drizzle of truffle oil. So easy, so impressive, so delicious.
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White Bean Bruschetta Recipe
Cannellini are my favorite type of white bean to cook with. Their nutty, earthy flavor adds subtle depth to most dishes. I was first exposed to the numerous ways in which they can be added to various recipes while traveling in Italy. The options are endless – in soups, stews, salads, dips, spreads and purées to name a few.
So, one evening when I was looking for a creative vegetarian appetizer, I started thinking about doing something with cannellini beans – and bruschetta came to mind. A few years earlier, I was served something similar as part of a farmhouse dinner in the Umbrian region of Italy. The memory of that simple yet satisfying dish stayed with me.
After experimenting with different ingredients and methods, I decided the best approach for my bruschetta was a garlic and lemon-flavored white bean purée spread on toasted ciabatta bread, topped with toasted walnuts and a drizzle of truffle oil. It’s now one of my favorite appetizers!
What Qualifies as Bruschetta?
Bruschetta is a classic Italian appetizer consisting of grilled rustic bread topped with a vibrant medley of fresh ingredients. It’s a simple yet delicious appetizer or starter that’s perfect for any occasion.
There are actually two types of toasted bread in Italian cuisine – bruschetta and crostini. While very similar, there are differences – in the type of bread used and the cooking method:
- Bruschetta is typically made with thick slices of bread that are cut from a larger rustic loaf, like ciabatta or a sourdough. In addition, for bruschetta the bread is either grilled or broiled. Many times the grilled bread is rubbed with a garlic clove.
- Crostini, on the other hand, are usually prepared with bread sliced from a smaller loaf, similar to a french baguette. And, for crostini, the bread is toasted not grilled or broiled.
Cannellini Bruschetta Ingredients
Here’s more detail on what you’ll need to create this delectable appetizer:
- Ciabatta is the best bread to use; it’s a rustic bread that’s sturdy enough to support the toppings. (You can substitute toasted baguette slices, but technically that would make it crostini, not bruschetta.) Whatever kind of bread you use, make sure its good quality for the best flavor..
- You’ll need extra virgin olive oil, to brush the bread before grilling.
- Cannellini or white beans – canned works just fine.
- Toasted walnuts complement the nutty flavor of the beans, the truffle oil brings out their earthiness.
- Fresh garlic adds a bit of bite, and the lemon brightens it all up.
- Kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper augment all the lovely flavors.
- Lastly, a garnish of chopped parsley or fresh basil adds color and a touch of herby flavor.
The good news is that you should be able to find all these ingredients at your local grocery store.
How to Make Cannellini Bean Bruschetta
I serve this appetizer often because it’s so easy to prepare, and I typically have all the ingredients on hand. Here are the steps:
- Prep grill/oven.
Preheat the broiler or grill to high.
- Grill/broil bread.
Brush bread slices with extra virgin olive oil, using around 3 tablespoons. Place, oiled side down on grill or on a cookie sheet 3 to 4 inches from the broiler. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until toasted and light golden brown. Remove from grill/oven; turn pieces from grill over so oiled side is up. Set on a large cookie sheet. Cut into smaller (1 to 2-inch) pieces if desired.
- Prepare purée.
In a food processor, mix together beans, lemon juice, garlic and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and purée until creamy and smooth. Season to taste with kosher salt and ground black pepper.
- Assemble bruschetta.
Spread purée on toast pieces and sprinkle walnuts on top. Drizzle with truffle oil and garnish with chopped parsley.
What to Serve with Bruschetta
White bean bruschetta is a delicious and versatile starter that can be enjoyed on its own or as part of a larger appetizer spread. Here are a few ideas for what to serve with it:
- Antipasto platter. An antipasto platter is a great way to add a variety of complementary flavors and textures to your appetizer table. Some classic antipasto ingredients include olives, cured meats, cheeses, and marinated vegetables.
- Charcuterie board. A charcuterie board is another great option for serving alongside white bean bruschetta. Charcuterie boards typically include cured meats, cheeses, crackers, and fruit.
- Fresh tomatoes and goat cheese bruschetta. Chopped roma tomatoes on grilled ciabatta bread is a classic bruschetta in Italy, and the ripe tomatoes’ sweet flavor pairs perfectly with tangy goat cheese. Try using a flavored goat cheese (like herb or truffle-honey), and add some toasted pine nuts and chopped fresh herbs to the juicy tomatoes. A drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar on top of the tomato mixture is the perfect finish. (Note: if tomatoes aren’t in season, use grape or cherry tomatoes as they will have more flavor.)
- Different bruschetta toppings. In addition to white beans and tomatoes, there are endless possibilities when it comes to other toppings for bruschetta. Some ideas include roasted vegetables seasoned with red wine vinegar (try a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top); pesto and cream cheese; hummus with toasted nuts, kalamata olives, and red onion; and tapenade. Choose two or three, and create a “bruschetta board”!
- Flavored bread. Garlic bread is a classic pairing for bruschetta. It adds a savory and garlicky flavor and pairs with virtually all the various toppings. Simpy rub the hot grilled bread with a garlic clove.
White Bean Bruschetta FAQs
Yes you can. Great Northern Beans would be the closest in flavor and texture to Cannellini.
If making ahead, store the cannellini bean purée and toasts separately. Place the purée in an airtight container in the refrigerator; store the toasts in a ziptop baggie at room temperature. Both will keep for 3 days.
You can freeze the cannellini bean purée and grilled/broiled bread slices separately. Place each in a separate airtight container. They will last up to 2 months in the freezer. Bring to room temperature before assembling.
[Note: this post is an update to one I shared in August 2010.]Print
- 1/2 loaf sliced Ciabatta (or other Italian) bread
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 can (15 ounce) cannellini (white) beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- Kosher or sea salt, to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons white truffle oil (or more to taste)
- Chopped flat leaf parsley or fresh basil, for garnish
- Preheat the broiler or grill to high.
- Brush bread slices with olive oil, using around 3 tablespoons. Place, oiled side down on grill or on a cookie sheet around 4 inches from broiler. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until toasted and light golden brown. Remove from oven; turn pieces from grill over so oiled side is up. Set on a large cookie sheet.
- In a food processor, mix together the beans, lemon juice, garlic and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and purée until creamy and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spread purée on toast pieces and sprinkle walnuts on the top. Drizzle with truffle oil and garnish with chopped parsley. Move from baking sheet to a pretty platter and serve.
Make ahead: Bean purée can be made up to 1 day ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using. Bread can be toasted earlier in the day and stored in a Ziploc baggie, at room temperature.
- Category: two-bite appetizer, make ahead
- Method: toast
- Cuisine: Italian