This basil Tomato Bruschetta recipe will quickly become your favorite Italian appetizer. Includes 5 tips on how to make the best bruschetta topping ever!
Growing up in an Italian household, my parents, hailing from tiny Southern Italian villages, placed immense importance on preserving our family and cultural customs, with many centered around food.
One such tradition involved serving a variety of Italian finger foods during our large family gatherings.
If you’ve been here before, you might have seen me share some of my mom’s Italian appetizers, like this recipe for Italian potato croquettes. Friends and family always appreciate these. They are easy to make year-round and a staple on every special occasion.
Another family favorite is this easy bruschetta recipe featuring garden-fresh tomatoes. It’s a summertime delight but works well all year round with a few minor adjustments.
For example, I like to use cherry tomatoes for occasions like the Super Bowl. They are sweet and add a burst of flavor to the bruschetta.
Whether having a backyard barbecue in the summer or a cozy indoor gathering during the cooler months, everyone will enjoy this easy bruschetta recipe!
What is Bruschetta?
Bruschetta (pronounced brusˈket.ta) is one of the simplest appetizers. All you need is bread, garlic, olive oil, and salt.
Surprisingly, there are NO TOPPINGS on bruschetta.
Back in the day, bruschetta was the result of grilling day-old bread, drizzling it with fragrant olive oil, and, if you were lucky enough to have it, sprinkling it with salt.
It’s a classic example of la Cucina povera, also known as the poor man’s kitchen.
There are endless variations of bruschetta based on the ingredients used for the topping. The most popular ones usually include tomatoes, whether fresh or roasted, and basil.
The printable recipe card at the bottom of the page has the specific amounts for each ingredient.
- Olive oil. If possible, please use 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. It’s 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.
How to make bruschetta
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 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!
Tips to make the best tomato bruschetta
1-Use fresh tomatoes. I always recommend using ripe, juicy tomatoes that are sweet-smelling. Local, in-season produce contributes to a great bruschetta. Cherry tomatoes provide the sweetest flavor and are great any time of the year.
2-Combine topping ahead of time. Combine the ingredients for the topping at least 30 minutes before 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 into 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!
For the tastiest bruschetta, use any in-season and very ripe tomatoes. Opt for yellow or orange varieties to add a visually appealing touch. If it’s not tomato season, cherry tomatoes offer excellent flavor year-round.
Here are some suggestions for the best bread for bruschetta. Consider Rustic Italian bread for a hearty base, Ciabatta bread for a chewy texture, Pagnotta for a rustic twist, or Sourdough bread for a tangy flavor. Each bread variety adds its unique touch to the classic bruschetta experience.
Dice larger tomatoes into eighths and cherry tomatoes into quarters for the perfect bite.
Yes, you can toast the bread if you don’t have a grill pan. Remember that you won’t get those distinctive grill marks without a grill pan.
Absolutely! You can skip rubbing the grilled bread with a garlic clove if you prefer a garlic-free version.
Fresh tomato recipes
Here are a variety of fresh tomato recipes you’ll love!
My mom, who was of Italian origin, first taught me how to cook over 50 decades ago.
One of the things she would always say was to keep recipes simple and use quality ingredients, especially for appetizers.
Mom reserved her bruschetta al Pomodoro, made with tomatoes straight from her backyard, for summer. Actually, all her tomato appetizers featured those garden gems, like her unforgettable Caprese salad!
Without a doubt, my most requested appetizer for summer party entertaining is my mom’s recipe for this Italian bruschetta recipe.
With just a few quality ingredients and my handy tips, you’ll easily whip up the best tomato bruschetta recipe.
And guess what? This starter isn’t just for summer; it shines just as bright in the colder months, especially when you opt for cherry tomatoes.
Cheers to simple, delicious appetizers that stand the test of time!
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!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- 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.
I originally published this post on May 11, 2015, and republished it on August 21, 2019, and again on February 5, 2024, with updated content. Thanks for sharing!