This Basil Tomato Bruschetta recipe will quickly become your favorite Italian appetizer. Includes 5 tips on how to make the best bruschetta topping ever!
I was born and raised Italian.
Both my parents immigrated to North America from small Southern Italian villages and keeping family and cultural traditions alive was extremely important to them.
So many of those traditions revolved around food.
One of these traditions is serving a variety of Italian finger foods at large family gatherings.
They are a household favorite among friends and family -easily made throughout the year and are one of the best make-ahead Italian appetizers. As a result, they are present at every special occasion.
During the summer, this easy bruschetta recipe topped with garden-fresh tomatoes is another family favorite.
If you are new to the concept of bruschetta, you are in for a nice surprise!
What is Bruschetta?
Bruschetta (pronounced brusˈket.ta) is one of the simplest appetizers to make. All you need is bread, garlic, olive oil, and salt.
There are NO TOPPINGS on bruschetta.
Back in the day, bruschetta was the result of grilling day-old bread and drizzling it with fragrant olive oil and if you were lucky enough to have, sprinkled with salt.
It is another example of la Cucina povera aka poor man’s kitchen.
There are many variations of bruschetta, based on the ingredients used for the topping. As you may have guessed, the most popular topping is the combination of tomato and basil.
The printable recipe card, found at the bottom of the page, has the specific amounts for each ingredient.
- Olive oil. If possible, please use a high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
- Balsamic Vinegar. Once again, high-quality vinegar is a must.
- Basil. Fresh.
- Oregano. Dried.
- Tomatoes. Seasonal fresh tomatoes make the best Italian bruschetta topping. Any variety will do, but they have to be in season and ripe!
- Grilled Italian Bread. The perfect vehicle for a tomato topping.
- Garlic. Only one whole clove is required to rub the charred bread.
- Grated Cheese. Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, your choice.
- Salt and Pepper. Use sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together olive oil (3 tablespoons), balsamic vinegar (2 teaspoons), dried oregano (1 teaspoon), salt (¼ teaspoon) and pepper (⅛ teaspoon).
Whisking is an important step for the marinade. The liquids thicken and the oil becomes emulsified and evenly distributed.
Make a basil chiffonade and combine it with the marinade. You need about 15 basil leaves.
Set the marinade aside while we chop the tomatoes.
Use any variety of tomatoes that are available to you, just make sure they are ripe. Dice the larger tomatoes…
and cut the cherry tomatoes in quarters and then in half. As you can see, yellow pear and black cherry tomatoes provide so much color!
We need a total amount of 2 cups of chopped tomatoes.
Add the tomatoes to the vinaigrette and toss together to combine. Set it aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Over high heat, heat a grill pan.
Grill day-old bread. One minute on each side is all that is needed. If possible, slice the bread about ½ inch thick. You will need about 6 slices of whole wheat pagnotta (Italian crusty bread) for this recipe.
Remove from heat and rub lightly with a garlic clove.
Cut each slice of bread in half. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the tomato mixture on each piece of the toasted bruschetta. Don’t forget that golden tomato juice!
Garnish with grated cheese, sea salt, and a fresh basil leaf.
Serve immediately and enjoy it.
1-Use fresh tomatoes. I always recommend using ripe, juicy tomatoes that are sweet-smelling. Local, in-season produce contributes to a great bruschetta.
2-Combine topping ahead of time. Combine the ingredients for the topping at least 30 minutes before you plan on serving your bruschetta. This minor detail has a major impact on the final taste. This relatively short period allows for the flavors to blend. Promise me that you will never, ever refrigerate your mixture …thanks 🙂
3-Grill the bread. High heat for a short time makes for bread that’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. This can be achieved using a grill pan. This takes about 1 minute per side. You can also use the BBQ.
4-Rub garlic on the grilled bread. Once you pull your bread from the heat, get ready with your peeled garlic clove and lightly rub your bread. The residual heat from the bread will allow for the garlic to be infused in the bread. A light garlic rub is all you need.
5-Garnish and serve immediately. The final touch is a sprinkle of sea salt, a dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (or Pecorino Romano). Remember, a little goes a long way. Serve it immediately and get ready… your family and friends will not be able to stop their oohing and aahing!
And there you have it! Five tips to make a good bruschetta great!
What are the best tomatoes?
Feel free to use any variety of in-season and very ripe tomatoes. Use the yellow or orange variety to provide a visually appealing tomato topping.
What is the best bread?
- Rustic Italian bread
- Ciabatta bread
- Sourdough bread
How to cut the tomatoes?
Larger tomatoes can be diced. Smaller cherry tomatoes can be quartered or even cut in eighths.
Can the bread be toasted?
Yes, if a grill pan is not available, the bread can be toasted. Please note that the grill marks will not be present.
Can you make bruschetta without garlic?
Yes, the rubbing of the grilled bread with a garlic clove can be eliminated.
Recipes with fresh basil we love
- Tomato Mozzarella Salad
- Margherita Pizza
- Traditional Basil Pesto
- Grilled Watermelon Steak
- Garlic Scape Pesto
My mom, who was of Italian origin, first taught me how to cook over 40 decades ago.
My first lesson was that recipes, especially appetizers, do not need to be complicated to be good. “Use quality ingredients and keep it simple”, she’d say.
She would only make her bruschetta al Pomodoro in the summer, with tomatoes grown in her backyard. Come to think of it, she always used her garden tomatoes for all of her tomato appetizers. Her Caprese salad recipe was exceptional!
Without a doubt, my most requested appetizer for summer party entertaining is my mom’s recipe for this Italian bruschetta recipe.
With a few quality ingredients and my trusty tips, you too will make the best tomato bruschetta recipe!
THANKS SO MUCH for following and being part of the She Loves Biscotti community where you will find Simple & Tasty Family-Friendly Recipes with an Italian Twist.
Ciao for now,
★★★★★ If you have made this bruschetta with tomatoes, I would love to hear about it in the comments below and be sure to rate the recipe!
Basil Tomato Bruschetta
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 15 leaves basil fresh, about ¼ cup thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon oregano dried
- ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper or to taste
- 4 medium tomatoes in season, very ripe, about 2 cups chopped (room temperature),
- 6 slices Crusty bread sliced ½ inch thick, cut in half
- 1 clove garlic whole
- 1 tablespoon Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or Pecorino Romano cheese finely grated
- sea salt and basil leaf to garnish optional
- extra olive oil for drizzling toasted bread optional
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, chopped fresh basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, including the seeds, and toss gently together.
- Let the mixture sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes in order for the flavors to marinate together.
- Place a grill pan over high heat.
- Grill the Italian bread for about one minute per side or until grill marks appear and bread is charred.
- Remove bread from heat.
- Immediately rub one side of toasted bread lightly with a garlic clove.
- Slice bread in half.
- Repeat until all the bread has been grilled.
- Spoon tomato mixture (including some of the liquid) on the toasted bread.
- Garnish with grated cheese, sea salt and basil leaf. If desired, drizzle with olive oil.
- Serve immediately.
This post was originally published on May 11, 2015 and republished on August 21, 2019 with updated content, photos and a video. Thanks for sharing!