Tomato Bruschetta, made with ripe summer tomatoes, is the perfect appetizer for entertaining or a delicious snack when you need to use day-old bread! Easy to make and requiring just a handful of ingredients, this classic Italian antipasto makes my heart flutter every time. Serve with wine for a true Italian experience!
You really can’t go wrong with bruschetta. Everybody loves it! If serving a crowd, you could also put together a fun Build-Your-Own Bruschetta Bar so your guests can assemble their own bruschette.
You really can’t go wrong with tomato bruschetta! I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love them.
I’ve been enjoying perfect authentic bruschetta since I was little, made by my (now deceased) dear Uncle Alfredo, who was born and raised in a little town, near Rome, called Sutri.
My recipe is pretty similar to his, with just a few modifications, and they taste just like I remember from my childhood! ♥️
Fresh tomatoes are at their best during summer, and bruschetta is a good reason to use ’em up! Because who can resist a bite of crusty bread topped with seasoned juicy tomatoes drizzled with a nice extra virgin olive oil? 🍅🍅🍅 Perfection!
What is Bruschetta?
Bruschetta (pronounced broo-skeh-tuh and not broo-shet-tuh) is an Italian appetizer dish that consists of grilled or toasted bread rubbed with garlic and topped with a variety of ingredients, from the classic tomatoes, to cured meat, beans or cheese.
In Italy, the bread is often prepared using a brustolina grill, which is a stovetop square toaster that fits over a gas burner.
The word bruschetta – whose plural is bruschette – comes from the primitive Roman dialect verb bruscare, which means “to toast” or “to roast over coals”.
Here in the U.S., the term is sometimes used to refer to the prepared topping, which you can find sold in jars at supermarkets.
Origins of bruschetta
By now, y’all know I’m a big food nerd! 😂 So I obviously researched a bit of the history of bruschetta.
As it’s the case with several popular dishes, there is no reliable historical evidence that gives us any clue on the true origins of this dish. Some experts believe that it originated somewhere between the regions of Tuscany and Lazio as a way to repurpose stale bread.
Toasting bread and soaking it with freshly pressed olive oil is “a practice probably as old as Rome itself,” according to Marcella Hazan on her book “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking“.
I personally think bruschetta is an evolution of the Tuscan fettunta, which translates to as “oiled slice”, and is just that: grilled Tuscan bread rubbed with garlic and drizzle with olive oil.
As for the habit of putting tomatoes on bruschetta, legend has it originated in Naples, with farmers who were busy picking tomatoes and would sit down and eat them on bread while working in the fields.
According to an old Italian proverb, the secret to a good bruschetta is “day-old bread, month-old oil, and year-old wine”. Here are all the ingredients you will need to make tomato bruschetta:
- Bread – Day old is fine, yes, but not too stale. A good bruschetta is crunchy on the edges but chewy in the middle.
- Tomatoes – Fresh, ripe summer tomatoes are a must! Something sweet and juicy, like heirloom tomatoes, tomatoes, vine tomatoes or Roma tomatoes. If making bruschetta when tomatoes are not in season, I recommend using grape or cherry tomatoes instead.
- Garlic – We will use just a clove to rub on the bread!
- Oil – The best extra-virgin olive oil you can afford! Preferably something fruity.
- Salt – I like to use kosher salt to salt the tomatoes and flakey salt to finish.
- Basil – Optional, but recommended. The sweet and aromatic flavor of basil pairs great with summer tomatoes.
What bread to use for bruschetta?
To make bruschetta, you will need a good quality crusty bread, sturdy enough to stand up to the toppings. That could be the traditional Italian (or Tuscan) loaf or a baguette. Sourdough works as well, but adds a distinctive tang that might or might not be something you enjoy. A nice ciabatta is also a good option.
I am using a baguette here, because I couldn’t get my hands on an Italian loaf. I do prefer the Italian or Tuscan loaf because it will give you a larger area for the toppings, but the baguette works perfectly too!
And while bruschetta was traditionally made with stale bread, I actually prefer using fresh bread so it retains some chewiness after toasted or grilled.
How to Make Bruschetta
This tomato bruschetta recipe is easy to make and can be easily doubled or multiplied if you are serving a crowd!
A few tips, which I’ll share below, should be followed for best results. But, overall, this is a pretty foolproof recipe and a hit every time it’s served! 😊
Recommended tools and equipment: cutting board, sharp Chef’s knife or tomato knife, bread knife, colander, bowl, baking sheet or gas grill, brush.
Here’s how I make this bruschetta recipe. As always, you will find the printable (and more complete) version of the recipe at the end of this post!
Step 1: Prepare the tomato topping.
- Core and seed the tomatoes. Cut each tomato in half and use a spoon to scoop out the core and seeds. Removing the seeds is not mandatory, but recommended, as it will help remove extra moisture and prevent your bruschetta from getting soggy. You can also peel the tomatoes, but I don’t bother.
- Salt the tomatoes and let them drain. Dice the tomatoes and place in a colander over a bowl or in the sink. Toss them with salt and let them drain for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour.
- Prepare the topping. Mix the drained tomatoes, olive oil and basil. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Step 2: Toast or grill the bread.
- Slice your bread into 1-inch slices.
- Toast or grill the bread slices.
- If toasting, arrange the slices on a baking sheet and toast at 400ºF for 8 to 10 minutes, just until the edges get golden. Do not let the bread get too hard! It should still be nice and chewy.
- If grilling the bread, preheat your gas or charcoal grill to medium and lightly oil the grates. Grill the bread on both sides until beginning to char, about 2 minutes per side.
- Rub the garlic on the bread slices. After the bread has cooled for 5 minutes but it’s still warm, rub the peeled garlic clove on one side of each slice. You can rub as lightly or as strongly as you’d like, depending on how pronounced you want the garlic flavor to be.
- Lightly brush the bread slices with olive oil.
Step 3: Assemble the tomato bruschetta.
- Just before serving, spoon the tomato mixture on the garlic rubbed side of each bread slice.
- If desired, finish with a sprinkle of flakey salt and garnish with more basil.
- Bruschetta is a simple dish that relies on the quality of the few ingredients it needs. If your tomatoes, bread and oil are not great, your bruschetta won’t be either!
- Salting the tomatoes in advance and placing them in a colander means the salt will draw the excess liquid out and your tomato topping will be not only less watery but will also have a more intense tomato flavor.
- I like to peel and lightly crush the garlic clove by banging it with a Chef’s knife. That way it releases a little bit of the internal oils, which will then rub more easily on the bread
Serving Tomato Bruschetta
Bruschetta is traditionally served as an appetizer or first course. It can also be part of an antipasto or charcuterie board.
Sometimes, to prevent the tomato bruschetta from getting soggy, I like to serve the warm bread and topping separately. This is great if there’s no sit down dinner and you are only serving party food. Your guests will then spoon the topping on the bread and the bruschetta will stay fresh during the duration of your party!
As for wine pairing, which – according to the old Italian proverb – is a must, go with a crisp Italian white wine, such as an Insolia or a Trebbiano. These will balance the acidity from the tomatoes.
If, instead, you prefer to enhance the acidic profile of the bruschetta, go with a high acid wine, such as a Pinot Grigio.
Tomato Bruschetta Variations
You can make bruschetta from pretty much anything. The following suggestions are variations on the tomato bruschetta:
- Drizzle the bruschette with balsamic vinegar. Make sure you are using real balsamic vinegar (labelled Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and carrying a D.O.P. stamp), as some “balsamic vinegars” you find out there are really just cheaper vinegar with sweetener and caramel coloring. They are made to emulate the texture and flavor of real balsamic, but they don’t come close and therefore are too thin and impossible to drizzle on top of your bruschette.
- Make an oven roasted tomato bruschetta. This is especially good if tomatoes are out of season, as you can use canned peeled tomatoes (which are picked when ripe and then canned right away) instead.
- Add cheese! I like adding baby fresh mozzarella (bocconcini or ciliegine) to the topping, which I halve or quarter so it blends more evenly with the tomato mixture. A little shredded parmesan is also a good option!
- Drizzle your bruschette with pesto sauce. Pesto and tomatoes are a great combination!
- Add black pepper! Traditionally, tomato bruschetta doesn’t have black pepper, but I personally find that grinding some black pepper on the bruschette adds another nice layer of flavor!
- Substitute the basil with some fresh oregano.
- Add olives or capers for a briney flavor.
- Sprinkle your bruschetta with a pinch of red pepper flakes, for some heat.
Frequently Asked Questions
I personally prefer my bruschetta fresh. That being said, the topping can be prepared and the bread can be toasted or grilled up to a day in advance! Store the topping in the fridge and the bread (wrapped or in an airtight container) at room temperature.
Unfortunately, no. Tomatoes really don’t freeze well!
If your bruschetta is bitter, it is probably your olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil varies in pungency and bitterness. Try trying other brands to see if you can find something a little more pleasant for you!
More Appetizer Recipes
- Eggplant Caponata
- Panzanella (Tomato Salad)
- Mezze Platter
- Baked Ricotta
- Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onions and Truffled Honey Crostini
- 5 ripe tomatoes (about 1 ½ pounds), cored, seeded and diced
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, or to taste
- 10 – 15 leaves fresh basil, sliced (chiffonade)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the bread
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- Optional: Flakey salt for finishing
- 1 large loaf of crusty bread (Italian, baguette or sourdough), sliced 1-inch thick
Make the topping:
- Place the diced tomatoes in a colander and toss with 1 teaspoon of salt. Place the colander over a bowl or in the sink and let the tomatoes drain (the salt will help the tomatoes release the extra liquid) for at least 15 minutes and up to one hour.
- Remove the tomatoes from the colander and discard the excess liquid. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes with the sliced basil and ¼ cup olive oil. Taste and adjust salt if desired. Reserve.
Prepare the bread:
- If toasting, preheat oven to 400ºF. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast until the edges begin to turn golden, about 8 to 10 minutes. Do not toast too long or the bread will get crispy and that's not what we want!
- If grilling, grill the bread slices on a gas or charcoal grill, with grates lightly brushed with oil, over medium heat. Grill on both sides until beginning to char, about 2 minutes per side.
- Rub the garlic clove on one side of each bread slice and then brush that side with a little bit of olive oil. (Note: You can brush lightly for just a garlic hint or apply a little more pressure if you want a strong garlic flavor.)
Assemble the bruschette:
- Top the bread slices – garlic rubbed side up – with the tomato topping.
- If desired, sprinkle each bruschetta with flakey salt.
- Serve immediately!