The perfect summer appetizer! Tomato basil bruschetta is an Italian staple. It’s made with just a handful of simple ingredients and is perfect for all your summer hosting!
I have waited what seems like an eternity to share this simple tomato basil bruschetta recipe with you!
Last August, Anees and I (yes, even the fresh tomato-hating husband) ate all the bruschetta we could fit into our two-week stay in Italy. We had bruschetta in Manarola, Positano and pretty much everywhere in between.
I can tell you this; the bruschetta was as divine as everyone said it would be. I’ve never eaten as many slices of fresh bread with tomatoes, basil, cheese, and pesto piled on high as I have in Italy. And I’d seriously consider going back for Italian bruschetta alone!
Italy will always be one of the best vacations we’ve ever taken. The best food, tons of history, and so many beautiful places all squeezed into one country.
What is bruschetta?
Bruschetta (pronounced bru-skeh-tah) is a popular type of Italian antipasto (or appetizer.) The word ‘bruschetta’ actually refers to the process of the bread bring grilled and rubbed with a cut clove of garlic. Bruschetta is topped with chopped vegetables, be it the most common — tomatoes, or cheese, pesto, and melon with prosciutto.
What do you need to make tomato basil bruschetta?
- hearty bread
- ripe tomatoes
- olive oil
- salt and balsamic (vinegar is optional)
What kind of bread should I use for bruschetta?
Tomato basil bruschetta is best served on slices of sourdough or a French baguette. Most bruschetta I had in Italy had a somewhat pleasantly sour flavor. And for this reason, I always make homemade bruschetta on crusty sourdough bread that I buy by the loaf and then slice myself. The sourdough bread works beautifully with the sweetness of the tomatoes and the richness of extra virgin olive oil.
However, feel free to use whatever kind of bread you’d like. You just want it to be a somewhat hearty slice so that it can hold on to the toppings. For this reason, I suggest buying it whole and slicing it yourself!
How to make tomato basil bruschetta:
- Start with the tomatoes. You want to grab red and ripe tomatoes that will make the colors pop when it comes together with basil! Feel free to grab a variety of tomatoes if you’d like, a hothouse, a couple of Romas, and a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes for a hint of tartness would be delicious. Remove the seeds and chop up the tomatoes into small pieces.
- Toss it together. Add the basil, oregano, and olive oil to the chopped tomatoes and let it all rest for 30 minutes or up to 6 hours.
- Toast the bread with a brushing of olive oil. And when it’s hot off the grill, be sure to rub it with a cut clove of garlic. This is precisely what bruschetta is all about!
- Season. Season the bruschetta mixture, let it sit for 5 minutes, and top your warm bread with it. Serve immediately! Sometimes, I like to toss a few leaves of arugula in the leftover tomato juices and top the bruschetta with that and a shaving of parmesan cheese for a little variety! A smear of pesto under the tomatoes would be equally delightful!
Additional tip for making bruschetta:
- Use the best quality extra virgin olive oil that you can. To be honest, I never really understood until I had good quality olive oil, but it makes all the difference
- Tear the basil, don’t use a knife. I recommend doing this for any recipe that doesn’t require cooking the basil. This releases more flavor into the bruschetta and keeps the basil from bruising and browning too quickly.
- Set aside for 30 minutes. Let everything rest for at little as a half an hour and all the way up to 6 hours, covered in the refrigerator.
- Slice the bread about ½ inch in thickness. That way the bread isn’t too thick and gives you just the right proportion of tomatoes to bread.
- Salt right before you serve. Salting the tomatoes too early causes them to release all those bright, acidic juices, which we do not want to do! So make sure you salt the tomato basil bruschetta mixture right before you serve, just give it 5 minutes and then top all your bread with it!
How to store leftovers
Leftover bruschetta mixture can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days! Use leftovers on eggs, serve with crackers or chips!
Why it’s perfect for the summer
Because it’s the perfect appetizer to make when you’re hosting dinner on the patio!
Get the grill going and just grill up the bread. Tomatoes and basil are also in full swing in the summertime, so all you need to do is mix up the toppings, and without much effort, you’ve got an easy, assemble-your-self appetizer!
To add a little variety, you can serve fresh basil pesto , fresh mozzarella, or even ricotta on the side for a DIY Bruschetta bar!
If you’re looking for other ways to use up your summer tomatoes:
- homemade pico de gallo 
- secret ingredient tomato basil soup 
- balsamic tomato baked chicken 
- black bean tomato avocado salad 
- roasted garlic Italian couscous salad 
- California pasta salad 
- 15-minute spinach pesto tortellini salad 
- tomato quinoa salad 
- 3 hothouse ripened tomatoes (or 5 Roma tomatoes)
- 7-8 basil leaves
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 tablespoons high-quality olive oil (plus more for bread)
- 1 rustic loaf of bread (such as sourdough), sliced into ½ inch thick slices, then cut in half
- 1 clove garlic, sliced in half
- ½ teaspoon Maldon salt (or any flakey salt)
- ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
- TOMATOES: Remove the seeds and juices then chop the tomatoes into small pieces. Place them into a medium bowl. Take the basil in your hands and tear them into small pieces, avoid using a knife if you can, add it to the tomatoes. Add the oregano and drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the tomato mixture. Stir to combine. Set aside for at least 30 minutes at room temperature (or up to 6 hours, covered in the refrigerator)
- BREAD: Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Or you can do this under the broiler or on an outdoor grill too. Drizzle (or brush) the sliced bread with olive oil. Flip, and drizzle the other side with additional olive oil. Place the bread on the grill. Let the grill heat and crisp the bread through, about 1-3 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for about a minute. Pull the bread off the grill and immediately rub with the cut side of the garlic clove.
- ASSEMBLE: When ready to serve, sprinkle the bruschetta mixture with salt and balsamic (if using,) let sit for 5 minutes. Then place spoonfuls of the bruschetta mixture on the prepared bread. I like to sprinkle each slice with an additional pinch of salt, however, this is completely optional!
- Sometimes, I’ll add a few arugula leaves (toss in the leftover tomato juices once I top the bruschetta) and a shave of Parmesan too! Basil pesto or fresh mozzarella would also be delicious on bruschetta!