Heirloom tomato bruschetta is a simple and delicious way to enjoy ripe, summer tomatoes. Mixed with fresh basil, garlic and olive oil, this classic recipe has only a handful of ingredients and is perfect in its simplicity. Try a bruschetta topping without tomato – this apple chutney bruschetta is a favorite.
Bruschetta is one of those things that you can barely classify as a “recipe”. It has clean, simple flavors that make for an incredibly delicious bite.
It is the perfect summer snack. I don’t think I’ve ever met a single person (kids included) who didn’t like it, so it’s a great little nibble to have on a warm summer afternoon.
Heirloom tomato bruschetta
For obvious reasons, this is best made when tomatoes are in season. When making something with only a few ingredients, it is essential to have them at their peak.
Garden tomatoes are plentiful right now, so if you have them, use them.
Whether it’s a sprawling garden, or a single pot on a fire-escape, if you grow your own tomatoes, odds are you have quite a few at the end of summer.
Can bruschetta topping be made in advance?
There will be many opinions on this. The short answer is yes – to a point. Some people say that it is ok to make it up to a couple of days in advance.
Here’s my take on this: I worked in fine dining restaurants and a very high-falootin’ catering company for many, many years. Whenever we made this, we never let it sit that long.
Here’s why: tomatoes are watery, herbs are delicate and acid breaks both of these down. The texture of the tomatoes becomes a little mushy and the herbs turn black.
Once the tomatoes start letting go of some of their liquid, it accumulates in the bottom of the bowl and they’re left to sit in it. Not a big deal if it’s for a short time, but over a couple of days, they’ll get soggy.
It’s absolutely fine to make it in the morning and serve it in the evening. So, you can make it a little in advance. A few hours of marinating time is great, but you want the tomatoes be bright and fresh, so keep it to a day or less.
What do I need to make bruschetta?
- Tomatoes – If they are available, get a mixture of different colors. They actually do taste different from regular red tomatoes.
- Garlic – Buy a head of the freshest garlic you can find.
- Olive oil – This olive oil is excellent, if you want to get a special bottle.
- Red wine vinegar – Available everywhere and used liberally to add a bit of zing (optional).
- Italian bread/French baguette – Long thin loaf of bread, get whatever is available to you.
- Fresh basil – You can’t really make tomato bruschetta without it.
To finely slice the basil, this is called “chiffonade“, stack the leaves on top of each other. Then, roll them up like a cigar as tightly as you can.
With a very sharp chef’s knife, slice thinly into ribbons.
It is important that your knife be sharp, otherwise you’ll end up crushing the herbs rather than slicing cleanly through them, causing them to bruise.
What kind of bread do I use for tomato bruschetta?
A nice loaf of Italian bread is the perfect choice for this heirloom tomato bruschetta. A thinner baguette, for crostini, is also perfectly acceptable and what is pictured below.
No matter which you prefer, you need to have a good serrated knife to slice the bread. My favorite bread knife is one I’ve had for almost 20 years. It slices through anything like butter.
There have been many nights when a plate of these beauties and a glass of wine was my dinner. I highly recommend it.
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- Half of a baguette or loaf of Italian bread, thinly sliced
- 3 tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp. basil
- 4 tbsp. olive oil (divided)
- salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C/Gas Mark 5
- Slice the bread. (I like to do it on the bias, so I have a little more surface area.)
- Drizzle it with one tablespoon olive oil, or use a pastry brush and coat it evenly with the olive oil. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the bread.
- Place the bread on a baking sheet and toast for 4 - 6 minutes per side, until golden brown and crunchy. (If you have a grill pan to use on top of the stove, this is a great use for it.)
- Dice the tomato, add to a small bowl with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Mince garlic as finely as you can or make a paste (see notes).
- Using a sharp knife, finely slice basil into thin ribbons (see notes) or chop finely.
- Add the garlic and basil to the tomatoes, mix to combine.
- Taste to check for seasoning - add extra olive oil, salt or pepper if necessary.
- Add about 2 tbsp of tomato bruschetta on top of each piece of crostini (toasted bread) and serve immediately.
To chiffonade basil: The best way to do this is to stack all of the basil leaves on top of one another and them roll them up length-wise as tightly as you can can. Then you slice as thinly as your knife skills will allow and you will have ribbons of basil leaf.
To make garlic paste: Mince the garlic and then sprinkle a bit of kosher salt over it. The salt acts as an abrasive, helping to break down the garlic. With the side of the blade, work the garlic back & forth on the cutting board until you start to see it break down. Pasting fresh garlic is nice because you get all the garlic flavor without biting into a chunk of raw garlic.
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Serving Size:2 pieces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 371Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 631mgCarbohydrates: 55gFiber: 4gSugar: 5gProtein: 10g
Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.
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Originally published 5/21/11, most recent update 8/5/20