Is there any dish more perfect in the summertime than an easy bruschetta? This simple appetizer or side dish takes advantage of your garden’s bounty by combining bright red, ripe tomatoes with fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar. Serve the vegetable medley over some crusty bread that has been brushed with olive oil and Parmesan and you have a true seasonal treat!
While we often expect bruschetta to be served as an appetizer or “first course,” there’s no rule that says it has to be! It also makes a delicious light lunch, or a nice side dish with an Italian meal at dinnertime (in lieu of garlic bread and salad, perhaps?).
When I recently served bruschetta on our dinner table, Keith and I were engaged in a conversation before we realized that 2-year-old Casey had reached across to the serving tray and picked off all but 2 of the tomato chunks…and he ate them all! We were left with a plate full of empty bread slices. The combination is that irresistible, folks!
I have my life-long neighbor, and my mom’s best friend, Joyce, to thank for this recipe. She “gifted” it to me at my bridal shower many, many years ago when all of the guests arrived with their favorite recipes on index cards.
These recipes have become some of my most treasured possessions, and they are the meals that I return to again and again because they are truly the best! Thank you, thank you, Joyce! And Casey thanks you as well.
So let's get right to the details:
How do you make Bruschetta?
While the tomatoes appear to be the bright star of the show here, the term "bruschetta" actually refers to the toasted Italian bread that has been coated with olive oil. The "bruschetta" (or bread) is typically served with plenty of garlic and fresh tomatoes, but you might also find it topped with beans, cured meat, cheese, and/or other vegetables.
Since the bread is such an important part of this simple antipasto, you want to make sure that you choose a good loaf of rustic Italian bread or French baguette. I like the baguette because it yields perfectly bite-sized rounds that are great for an appetizer tray or small taste.
The process of actually making the bruschetta is incredibly easy, and best of all...it can be prepped in advance. Perfect for those evenings when you're playing hostess and you don't want to be stuck in the kitchen!
- First, you'll slice the baguette into ½-inch thick rounds. I get about 18 slices from an 8-ounce loaf of bread.
- Brush (or drizzle) the bread with olive oil, place it on a tray (oil-side down), and pop the bread slices under the broiler to toast. This just takes a few minutes, so keep a close eye on the broiler to prevent burning!
- Flip the toast over, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, and pop the bread slices back under the broiler to toast on the other side and to melt the cheese.
- Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool completely. If you do this far in advance, you can keep the toasted bread in a large zip-top bag until you're ready to prepare the rest of the bruschetta.
Tips for Preparing the Topping on your Tomato Bruschetta:
- You can stir together most of the topping ingredients in advance; however, Joyce suggests waiting to add the tomatoes until closer to serving time. This avoids a watery tomato mixture.
- Season with plenty of garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs, to taste. You have the freedom to make it your own!
- Wait to put the tomato mixture on the bread until just before you serve the bruschetta. This way your bread will not get soggy.
That's it! So simple, so fresh, and so perfect for a warm summer evening and a glass of wine with friends!
More fresh tomato recipes that you might enjoy:
- 1 ½ lbs. fresh tomatoes (I used 4 medium vine-ripened tomatoes)
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus additional for brushing on bread
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 baguette (about 8.3 ounces), sliced into ½-inch-thick slices
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Toast bread slices by brushing one side with olive oil, then broiling, non-oiled side up, for 45 seconds or until toasted.
- Turn bread over, add grated Parmesan cheese, and toast until lightly browned.
- Set aside and allow bread to cool.
- In a small bowl, combine basil, garlic, oregano, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice. Set aside.
- No more than 2 hours before serving, slice tomatoes into 4 sections, remove seeds, and chop coarsely. Combine tomatoes with the herb mixture and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- No more than 10 minutes before serving, top each bread slice with about 2 tablespoons of tomato mixture.
This recipe was originally posted in August, 2013. It was updated in June, 2018.