As a starter or on the side, bruschetta is an ideal choice for outdoor entertaining: You can make it in minutes, eat it while mingling, and top it to suit everyone's tastes. Just start with Basic Bruschetta and top it as you please.
Coat the bottom of one or two rimmed baking sheets with olive oil and set the bread slices on top in a single layer. Brush the tops with a little more oil and set aside until you're ready to grill.
Light a charcoal fire and heat it until you can hold your hand above the grate for no more than 2 seconds or heat a gas grill to medium high. Grill the bread until one side has dark grill marks and then turn them to toast the other side.
As soon as the slices are done, rub with garlic, if using, and add a topping, such as a slice of tomato and mozzarella, or any of topping suggestions above.
Now cut the bruschetta into serving-size pieces. Serve right away.
nutrition information (per serving):
based on ten servings without topping;
Photo: Scott Phillips