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Tomato Bruschetta, the Americanized version of the authentic classic Italian antipasto (meaning appetizer, starter dish) or snack, consists of toasted French or Italian bread rubbed with olive oil and garlic, topped with chopped fresh ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
You’ll love how easy it is to re-create this restaurant-quality appetizer at home.
While we usually think of Bruschetta as the tomato portion of this recipe, the word Bruschetta refers to the preparation of the bread (cut, olive oil and garlic rubbed), not the Bruschetta topping. I am calling this recipe Bruschetta because, in North America, the word is sometimes used to refer to a popular dish with tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
In fact, Bruschetta isn’t always topped with tomatoes; it can be made with other ingredients too (see variations in notes), but this tomato concoction is my favourite!
The noun Bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKET-tah) comes from the Roman dialect verb bruscare, the equivalent of the Italian word abbrustolire, which means ‘to toast’ or ‘to roast over coals.’ Toasting bread and soaking it with freshly pressed olive oil and sometimes rubbed with garlic is “a practice probably as old as Rome itself.”
This classic Italian appetizer is a perfect way to capture the flavours of garden-ripened tomatoes and fresh basil. Think of it as summer on toast! The brighter and juicier your tomatoes, the better your Bruschetta will be.
The flavour profile makes me think of the classic Caprese Salad.
Typically, Bruschetta is a snack, first course or an appetizer, but I think of Bruschetta more as a meal. I like to serve them with a green salad.
Besides being high on nutrition, there are other pros of Bruschetta. It is amazingly simple to make and takes about 20 to 25 minutes to prepare. This recipe with basic ingredients could not be any simpler!
What kind of bread should I serve with this easy Bruschetta?
For this easy Bruschetta, I chose to use this French bread, toasted. I love this style of bread because it is what most restaurants serve it with, and it is the best.
When my garden is overflowing with ripe tomatoes, I enjoy using them in my favourite recipes that I make every summer, such as:
- Pinçage (Mirepoix with tomato paste)
- Caprese Salad
- Homemade oven-dried tomatoes
- Tomato Dehydrated with Pink Salt
- Slow-Roasted Tomato
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Garlic-infused Olive Oil
- ¼ cup Olive oil - extra Virgen
- 1 tbsp Garlic - 4 cloves minced
- French Bread - cut into 13mm/½-inch slices - recipe at https://fast2eat.com/french-style-bread/
- Olive oil - spray
- Garlic - powder or 1 clove halved - optional
- Parmesan cheese
- Balsamic reduction - recipe at https://fast2eat.com/balsamic-reduction/
- Balsamic glaze - recipe at https://fast2eat.com/balsamic-glaze/
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Garlic-infused Olive Oil
- Heat olive oil in a small skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Once warm, add in the garlic and stir briefly for about 1 minute until just starting to turn golden. Don't burn the garlic! Immediately remove the pan from the heat.
- Pour into a large mixing bowl. Let cool while you chop the tomatoes and basil.
- Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up.
- While the olive oil cools, slice your bread on the diagonal into pieces no wider than 13mm (½-inch).
- Place the slices in a single layer on your prepared baking sheet.
- Brush the bread with some olive oil.
- Note: If you want, you can toast the bread slices without coating them first in olive oil.
- And sprinkle with garlic powder.
- Note: You can also rub slices with 1 of the garlic cloves after toasting (raw and cut in half).
- Bake at 230°C/450°F for about 5 to 10 minutes, turning halfway until toasted, then flip slices to the opposite side and bake the opposite side until they’re crisp and nicely golden on top.
- Cut tomatoes in half and spoon out most of the juices and seeds.
- Dice the tomatoes into a strainer and allow them to drain while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Once the oil is cooled, add the diced tomatoes and the remaining bruschetta ingredients into the bowl and gently stir to combine well.
- Note: If not serving right away, add salt just before serving, as salt releases water from the tomatoes.
- There are a couple of ways to serve it:
- Serve bruschetta in a bowl and the toasted bread slices all around.
- Arrange the toasted bread on a platter side facing up (the olive oil will help create a temporary barrier keeping the bread from getting soggy from the chopped tomatoes) and keep the tomato mixture in a separate bowl. This keeps the bread toast crispy, and your guests can assemble their bruschetta with the amount of tomato mixture they prefer.
- Serve the bruschetta with two serving spoons: one slotted spoon for guests who want less tomato juice and one spoon that has no slots for guests who prefer more tomato juice.
Top each slice of bread with the tomato mixture and place on a platter.
- Note: If you top each slice of the toasted bread individually with tomato mixture, do it right before serving. Bruschetta is best served promptly.
Skip the bread
- Try it on top of grilled chicken for an easy low-carb dinner or lunch option!
- Garnish with Parmesan if desired.
Tips for best resultsBruschetta comprises only a handful of ingredients – make sure they're the best! Be sure to use as fresh of ingredients as possible. I suggest buying any fresh ingredients just a day or so before you plan to make this easy bruschetta recipe.
Extra virgin olive oilA generous addition of olive oil makes this dish come alive, giving it a fresh aroma and a pleasant taste. Using the best quality extra virgin will give you the best flavour and make all the difference.
GarlicAdd this to taste. I love plenty of garlic and use four cloves for the tomatoes and one clove for the toasts. Use fresh garlic, pressed in a garlic press or minced by hand. Minced garlic has a more intense flavour than chopped. Fresh works best, but jarred garlic is an alternative; however, it is just not the same. Rub both sides of the bread slices with garlic cloves to help impart tons of flavour to the toast.
Fresh ripe tomatoesAny variety will do. Beef steak tomatoes, Roma or on-the-vine tomatoes will work! Expert chefs advise using two different tomatoes to get a tastier feel to the Italian bruschetta recipe. Use the best tomatoes you can find. Note: Roma tomatoes are slightly less flavourful but have far fewer seeds, making your bruschetta less watery. These varieties have a little more firmness that prevents the appetizer from becoming mushy.
Cherry tomatoes are pretty great.Tomato bruschetta will always be best served during summer, but you can probably get by with cherry tomatoes in other seasons. I find cherry tomatoes to be the most consistent of all tomatoes. Not only are they easier to prepare—no need to seed or peel, just cut them in half¬—but they add extra sweetness, too.
Colourful tomatoesUse red and yellow grape tomatoes for a colourful bruschetta.
Blanch and peel the tomatoes (optional)Tomato skins and seeds can be bitter, and removing them improves the flavour and texture of your bruschetta topping. If you want, start by scoring the skin of your tomatoes on the bottom, opposite the stem. Take care not to cut too deeply into the flesh. Submerge the tomatoes in the boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds until the skin peels back. The hot water shrinks the skin but doesn't cook the tomato underneath. Move the tomatoes immediately to an ice bath. Peel the tomatoes as soon as they're cool enough to handle – their skins should slip right off. You may need to leave them in the boiling water for a few more seconds if they don't.
Remove the seeds from the tomatoes.Seeds also contain extra water, which makes your bruschetta runny and your toast points soggy. No one wants that! Slice your tomatoes into four wedges, and remove the seeds. Large tomatoes may be cut into eight wedges to make this process easier.
Drain off excess tomato juiceDice tomatoes into uniform pieces and then drain off the excess juice. This will make your bruschetta less soupy, and the flavours of your tomato topping will be better and more concentrated. We don't want soggy bruschetta, so pour off the excess juice before seasoning it at the end. This doesn't take extra time and produces a more flavourful and consistent result.
BasilOne of the highlights of this dish is how well tomatoes and basil leaves come together to give you a burst of freshness. Fresh basil is of utmost importance to tie all the flavours together. For best results, use only thinly sliced fresh basil. You’ll want to use a big handful, whether it’s from your garden or the store. When you go to the grocery store, you can find fresh basil in the produce area in a little clam-shell package. However, if you look around, they often also sell a fresh little basil plant for around the same price but bigger and lasts longer. Never use dried basil in bruschetta.
Balsamic vinegarYou don’t have to use balsamic vinegar, but I love the irresistible tang that good balsamic vinegar provides. It adds an essential rich layer of flavour that creates the authentic bruschetta taste. It punctuates the result with irresistible tanginess, but it will turn the tomatoes lightly brown and make the flavour more uniform than drizzling the reduction or glaze.
Drizzle Balsamic reduction or glaze on topFor a beautiful presentation, serve toasted bread with tomato mixture and drizzle it with balsamic reduction or glaze for a truly delicious extra special treat and winning combination. I don’t recommend using run-of-the-mill, runny balsamic because it pours rather than drizzles. You could stir some runny balsamic into your tomato mixture.
OnionYou won’t find onion in every bruschetta recipe, but it adds a light crunch and additional flavour that compliments the tomatoes. With onion, you don’t have to overload your bruschetta topping with garlic to make it taste amazing. You can omit the onions if you’re not a fan.
Salt and PepperSalt and black pepper are all that this winning recipe needs to fill your mouth with its tasty goodness. Black pepper adds a little bit of spice that helps bring out the flavours along with the salt. Note: If not serving right away, add salt just before serving. When you toss diced tomato with salt, the juice exits the tomatoes, and you can end up with a watery bowl of tomatoes.
Marinate the tomato mixture for 10 minutes.Help the flavours of your tomato topping to meld by mixing your chopped tomatoes, olive oil, basil and seasoning, then allowing the entire mixture to be steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
Crusty breadBruschetta is often made with a large and rustic Italian loaf—a round of bread with a coarse enough crumb to absorb a generous drizzling of olive oil. Look for a slender loaf of rustic, crusty bread. French baguettes also have the best crispy texture for bruschetta. Cut into manageable serving pieces, and be sure to cut the bread while it’s warm, or it tends to crack.
Slicing the breadSlice your bread too thick, and your ratio of fresh produce to the grain will be off. Slice your bread too thin, and you’ll wind up as a crispy toast point, something more like a crostini (smaller, thinner slices of bread piled with various toppings). For that perfectly-crispy crust and soft interior, we aim for about half an inch thickness.
Brush both sides of the bread with oilThis browns more evenly and creates a more crispy, golden brown colour and texture. The olive oil prevents too much tomato juice from soaking into the toasts, keeping them crisper. Oiling the bread ensures that both sides are golden brown and crispy (think of the difference between plain toast and homemade croutons). Spray olive oil to quickly coat the baguette slices, then sprinkle with garlic powder for an extra flavour on each bite.
Oven roast-toast at high heatYou can either toast your bread, roast it in the oven, or grill it for a deeper smoky flavour. Totally up to you, but for us, it’s faster and easier to roast the bread in the oven. Oven roast-toast at 230°C/450°F. High heat yields extra crispy toasts, which is what we’re going for. Don’t pass up this step to roast/toast to keep the toast extra crispy.
How to grill your breadGrilling your bruschetta over an open fire adds a hint of smokiness. Brush the slices with olive oil as directed and place them directly on the grill grates with tongs. Cover and let the bread toast for about 3 minutes. When the undersides are golden, with nice grill marks, carefully flip them with tongs and repeat on the other side. The fire should be medium hot, whether you’re using charcoal or gas. Too hot and the bread will burn; too cool, and the bread dries out before it gets nice grill marks. The second side never marks quite as well as the first, so, be patient with the first side.
Can you toast the bread?To toast the bread — this is time-consuming — use a 2 or 4-slice toaster, in which the bread slices are toasted on both sides simultaneously, but only in the number of slices your toaster allows. This works for tiny batches or if you want to have a little snack.
Toast only until golden brown.
Can you broil the bread?I’ll never suggest broiling bread because broilers vary considerably from oven to oven, and no one wants to light their toast on fire. Only use the broiler if you can stand by the oven to watch the bread, so it doesn’t burn.
TemperatureBruschetta is best when served at room temperature or chilled. Especially when placed on top of the warm bread.
How do you keep bruschetta from getting soggy?
Use crunchy breadThe first tip is to use the right bread. Using soft bread will result in soggy bruschetta, no matter how much you toast it.
Serve promptly after assembleAnother tip is not to assemble the bruschetta beforehand.
Wait to assemble your bruschetta until you’re ready to serve because tomato-topped bread will inevitably soften as time goes on.
Make a few bruschetta toasts up and place them on your serving platter and then keep the rest in a bowl for your guests to assemble as they eat.
Or Serve bruschetta in a bowl with a spoon and the toasted bread slices all around.
Making ahead of timeIf making the recipe for a party, you can slice the bread ahead of time, up to several hours before serving. This will help with some last-minute prep stress and give you a quick app to throw together right as people arrive. You could make the tomato mixture up to two days in advance; however, if you're making this appetizer recipe for a party, I recommend doing it the morning of your event or the day before. Place it in an airtight container until you're ready to serve. Do not leave the chopped tomato mixture out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours. For best results, toast the bread right before serving, as leftover toasted bread can become tough and stale and not as enjoyable when eaten leftover.
LeftoverIt would be best if you try only to make as much as you can eat in one night, as this Bruschetta does not store very well. Store these ingredients separately if you have extra bread and topping not yet assembled. Should you do have Bruschetta assembled and leftover -- it won't store well. The moistness of the tomatoes will cause the bread to become soggy and create an unappetizing mush. You can store bruschetta tomato mixture successfully, though.
Storing the breadIf the bread is already toasted, it might stay edible for an hour or two if you wrap it in foil; however, over time, it will simply turn hard and inedible when stored. You're better off buying a new loaf and toast or grilling it just before serving.
Storing the tomato mixtureThe mixture will keep for about 2-3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator however is best eaten fresh and served right away for up to 1 or 2 hours. Going a little longer isn't hurt anyone. It'll just loose a lot of its fresh consistency and texture. Try using the leftovers to top the grilled or baked chicken for the next day's lunch or dinner. You can also have it with pesto and cheese in place of the tomato in this recipe. Tip: If your Bruschetta is watery or soupy after sitting, you can freshen it up by straining out the liquid with a fine-mesh strainer and tossing in a little more garlic-infused olive oil.
Can I freeze bruschetta?I don’t recommend freezing the tomato mixture at all. It is best enjoyed fresh. Frozen tomatoes will become mealy and won’t look or taste vibrant after thawing. The texture and the taste would be completely off. If you freeze it, add it to pasta sauces, soups, or stews for maximum flavour! The toasts could be made a day ahead and frozen for longer storage. Before serving, thaw and re-crisp in the oven or air fryer.
Make it gluten-freeUse gluten-free bread if you can find a good one. Or, serve the tomato mixture with gluten-free crackers on the side for scooping.
VariationsYou've spent the time making a better bruschetta; now it's time to mix it up by adding some variation.
- Fresh mozzarella goes with tomatoes and basil like they were made for each other! Toss in cubed mozzarella cheese instead of or along with shredded Parmesan cheese, or put slices on the bread before topping. Finish with a drizzle of good balsamic reduction or glaze.
- Add more vegetables like chopped grilled zucchini, squash, corn, edamame,r chopped spinach or even cucumbers to taste.
- Add lime zest and dried chilli peppers to taste for an extra kick.
- Add more herbs like fresh thyme, oregano, or rosemary.
- Smear the toasted baguette points with goat cheese, or crumble some queso fresco into the topping.
- Smear the toasted baguette points with hummus to make it vegan.
- Add an avocado to the toasted baguette.
- Forget chopping basil and garlic – toss in a dollop of pesto instead! Despite being almost the same ingredients, the difference in taste between pesto and chopped basil and garlic is surprising.
- Add wild mushroom. Mix and match and see what you like best! Sauté mushrooms in a bit of butter, and allow them to cool before adding to the basic bruschetta topping.
- Make a low-carb Breadless bruschetta by swapping thin slices of crispy fried eggplant or zucchini!
- Top bruschetta with any toppings you enjoy, such as pulled pork, arugula, or a mixture of vegetables.
- Try kale sautéed in olive oil and garlic as a delicious topping.
- Use beans and spices to make a "fiesta bruschetta."
- Make Bruschetta Chicken by adding chicken breasts.
- Serve with a salad and wine to make the meal complete.
Health benefits of BruschettaBruschetta toppings can vary per choice, but tomatoes are a must-include ingredient.
And as you already know, tomatoes are extremely good for health. They are packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin K1, folate and potassium. Minerals like potassium and folate take care of your circulatory and cardiovascular systems. Moreover, they are also a rich source of antioxidants such as Chlorogenic Acid, which is known to help lower blood pressure and reduce the LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body. In return, your heart stays healthy while your bones become stronger too. Antioxidants also help the body protect against various diseases by strengthening the immune system. It also contains Beta carotene, which gets converted to Vitamin A in the body. Also, about 95% of a tomato consists of water which is why it is low in calories, while the other 5% mainly consists of fibre which aids digestion, helps you stay full longer, and keeps your gut clean and healthy. The Lycopene in tomatoes helps protect against skin burn or, in other words, acts as a natural sunscreen. Olive Oil is light and good for your heart. It is a boon for people suffering from cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and cholesterol. You can make avocado bruschetta too, which is also extremely good for the body.
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