This tomato bruschetta recipe is loaded with garden-fresh produce on top of toasted bread slices. It’s an easy Italian appetizer to prepare for a dinner party with guests.
When fresh tomatoes are ripe and juicy, chop them up for a classic Italian bruschetta. It’s an easy antipasto to whip up before the main feast. You can even prepare this dish in advance, so you don’t have to spend all your time in the kitchen when entertaining guests. The ingredients are simple, just grab some fresh Roma tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil, and your favorite loaf of crusty bread.
A few staple pantry items like oil and vinegar combine all the flavors. The contrast of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs piled on top of thick pieces of crispbread makes for an irresistible starter. It’s hard to stop at just one! In under an hour, you’ll have a stunning appetizer. Or, use the tomato topping for other entrees like grilled chicken, fish, or sandwiches.
What is bruschetta?
Bruschetta is an Italian appetizer or antipasto, with the main component being slices of toasted rustic bread seasoned with high-quality olive oil, garlic, and salt. The bread for bruschetta is traditionally thicker and has larger slices that are grilled for extra flavor. Compared to crostini, which uses smaller rounds of bread that are heated until very crispy throughout.
There are endless variations for the toppings ranging from different types of fresh or pickled vegetables, beans, cured meats, diced tomatoes, and herbs like basil and oregano. Cheeses like ricotta spread on the toast, mozzarella, or aged hard cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano sprinkled on top. Aside from making breadcrumbs, this recipe is a tasty way to revive any stale bread.
A rustic Italian or French loaf will provide a crisp surface with a soft interior crumb after toasting, resulting in a lighter texture. If you like a thicker crust with a chewy and dense center, use a French baguette. You can yield about 12 slices for the larger loaves and 24 for the more slender and long baguettes.
Slice the bread into at least ½-inch to ¾-inch thick pieces. I prefer it thicker, so there’s more contrast once toasted.
Toast the bread
I designed this recipe so it can be made all year long. You’re not limited to an outdoor grill for toasting. Place the slices on a baking sheet in a 450ºF (232ºC) oven to quickly char each side until golden brown. Brush each side with extra-virgin olive oil. This makes the surface crispier and more flavorful. I like to sprinkle on salt before heating so that the coarse crystals dissolve and stick to the bread.
You don’t want to leave it in the oven too long, or it will dry out and not have a soft center. If you want to grill the bread, heat the barbecue or a stovetop pan to medium heat and toast for several minutes until grill marks appear.
Rub the bread with garlic
One of the tricks to making the bread slices extremely flavorful is to rub sliced garlic cloves on each side. I do this after toasting when the bread is still warm. You’ll notice right away the sulfurous pungent aroma transfers to the bread.
The heat mellows out the pungent and sulfurous flavors so that the taste isn’t too sharp. It’s a simple way to add layers of flavor to each bite.
You can use any type of tomato as long as they’re very ripe. For this recipe, I use Roma tomatoes. They have a nice balance of sweetness, low acidity, and juicy texture and are firm enough not to break down into a mushy pulp when combined with balsamic vinegar.
For an even sweeter taste, use smaller cherry or cocktail varieties. Make sure to chop the tomatoes into ¼-inch pieces. This size makes it easier to quickly marinate and stays on top of the bread slices when eating.
How to make bruschetta topping
Make the tomato topping in a bowl by combining the diced tomato, minced garlic, onions, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. I wait to add the olive oil, so the vinegar has time to season the tomatoes first.
This appetizer can be served with warm bread immediately, or you can make the dish one day in advance and keep the bread and tomato separate. If you want, add a balsamic vinegar reduction drizzle to add sweet and tangy flavors.
Other uses for the tomato topping
- Serve with grilled chicken or salmon
- Make a chicken bruschetta sandwich
- Top on poached eggs for breakfast
How to keep bruschetta from getting soggy
The key is to toast the bread with a thin coating of olive oil on the surface. The oil will help repel some moisture from the tomato topping to prevent the toast from getting soggy immediately. It’s best to eat the bruschetta soon after making it. Another option is to serve the topping in a bowl with the bread on the side so people can construct the appetizer.
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- 1 Italian loaf, french loaf, or baguette
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
- 2 pounds roma tomatoes, about 10
- ¼ cup white onion, finely minced
- ¼ cup thinly sliced basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat to 450ºF (232ºC).
- Slice the Bread – Cut the bread on a slight bias into ½" thick slices or ¾" for thicker pieces. There should be between 12 to 24 slices depending on the thickness and length of the loaf.
- Toast the Baguette Slices– Lightly brush olive oil on both sides of the bread. Sprinkle salt on both sides. Bake until the surface is lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side. You still want a soft chew in the center of the bread and not be completely dried out. Transfer toasted bread to a wire rack.
- Enhance the Bread's Flavor – While the bread is still warm, rub the cut-side of garlic on both sides for extra flavor.
- Dice the Tomatoes – Cut the tomatoes lengthwise into quarters, removing the core and seeds. Chop into ¼" dice. There should be about 4 cups of diced tomatoes. Transfer to a medium bowl.
- Season the Tomato Mixture – To the bowl of tomatoes, add the minced onions, basil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the mixture, and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
- To Serve – Add the tomato mixture on top of the toasted bread slices and serve immediately. Alternatively, place the mixture in a bowl and let guests top the bread themselves.
- Baking Sheet
- Mixing Bowl
- For a Stronger Garlic Flavor: Add 2 teaspoons of minced garlic instead of 1 teaspoon.
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