This tomato bruschetta recipe is loaded with garden-fresh produce on top of toasted bread slices. The sweet and juicy chopped tomato mixture is combined with savory aromatics, basil leaves, and tangy balsamic vinegar. It’s an easy Italian appetizer to prepare for a casual dinner or a big celebration.
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 bring all of the flavors together. 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 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 tomato, 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 makes for 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 about 24 for the more slender and long baguettes.
Toasting 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 lightly golden brown. 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 grill 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 some 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 really 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 and low acidity, juicy texture, and are firm enough so that they don’t break down into a mushy pulp when combined with the 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 them and it stays on top of the bread slices when eating.
How to make bruschetta
Slice the bread into at least ½-inch to ¾-inch thick pieces. I prefer it thicker so there’s more contrast once toasted. Brush each side with extra-virgin olive oil, this makes the surface crispier and more flavorful. I like to sprinkle on some salt before heating so that the coarse crystals dissolve and stick to the bread. Rub garlic all over both sides as well.
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 in the olive oil so that the vinegar has time to season the tomatoes first.
This appetizer can be served with warm bread right away or you can make the dish one day in advance and keep the bread and tomato separate. If you want, add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction to add extra sweet and tangy flavors.
Other tasty ways to use the tomato topping
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 of the moisture from the tomato topping to prevent the toast from getting soggy right away. 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 that people can construct the appetizer.
- 1 (364 g) Italian loaf, french loaf, or baguette
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- ½ teaspoon (3 g) kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
- 2 pounds (908 g) roma tomatoes, about 10
- ¼ cup (30 g) white onion, finely minced
- ¼ cup (5 g) thinly sliced basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon (3 g) finely minced garlic
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Set the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat to 450ºF (232ºC).
- Cut the bread on a slight bias into ½-inch thick slices or ¾-inch for thicker pieces. There should be between 12 to 24 slices depending on the thickness and length of the loaf.
- 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.
- While the bread is still warm, rub the cut-side of garlic on both sides of the bread for extra flavor.
- Cut the tomatoes lengthwise into quarters, removing the core and seeds. Chop the tomatoes into ¼-inch dice. There should be about 4 cups of diced tomatoes. Transfer to a medium bowl.
- 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 olive oil to the mixture, stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Add some of the tomato mixture on top of the toasted bread slices and serve immediately.
- For a stronger garlic flavor add 2 teaspoons minced garlic instead of 1 teaspoon.