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.
I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.
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Why you should make this recipe
If you love toppings on toasted bread, if you can’t wait for ripe summer tomatoes, or you love simple, fresh flavors, this recipe might be for you.
- Quick & easy – This recipe is ready in under 20 minutes, and it requires minimal effort.
- Seasonal – What makes recipes like this special is they are not meant to be enjoyed year-round. This is summertime at its peak.
- Scale up – You can easily double or triple this recipe to feed a larger group. Perfect for parties.
Heirloom tomato bruschetta
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.
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.
- Tomatoes – If heirlooms 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 arbequina olive oil is excellent, if you want to get a special bottle.
- 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.
- Red wine vinegar – Available everywhere and used liberally to add a bit of zing (optional).
How to make
Here’s a quick summary of how to make heirloom tomato bruschetta. Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full recipe.
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.
Add the basil to the chopped tomatoes, olive oil & garlic. Gently toss to combine in a medium mixing bowl.
A good serrated knife is very helpful to slice the bread. My favorite bread knife is one I’ve had for almost 20 years. It slices through everything like butter.
Season the tomato mixture to your personal preferences. Pile the tomato bruschetta on top of the toasted bread and enjoy.
Heirloom tomato bruschetta FAQ’s
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.
Yes! I do realize heirloom tomatoes are not available everywhere, and not everyone likes to grow their own tomatoes. So, use whatever ripe tomatoes you have access to. As long as they are ripe, they are perfect to use for this bruschetta.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy leftover bruschetta is on top of a piece of grilled chicken. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar and that is a delicious dinner.
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 fancy catering company for many, many years. Whenever we made this, we never let it sit for 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 to be fresh and not mushy, so keep it to a day or less.
There have been many nights when a plate of these beauties and a glass of wine was my dinner. I highly recommend it.
Variations and substitutions
If you can only find regular red tomatoes at the grocery store, that’s fine! Use them. You may need to increase the garlic and/or basil if they don’t have a ton of flavor.
This bruschetta also makes a delicious topping on grilled chicken with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars!
- 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
- a splash of red wine vinegar, optional
- 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. If you like a little zing, add a splash of red wine vinegar.
- 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.
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.
Thanks for stopping by! Have a delicious day 🙂
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Originally published 5/21/11.