Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil
Ah bruschetta, one of the best ways to enjoy the bounty of summer. Pronounced “brusketta”, this classic Italian appetizer is a perfect way to capture the flavors of garden ripened tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil. Think of it as summer on toast!
My friend Dee showed me how to make it years ago, and it couldn’t be easier to prepare. It’s just a mixture of chopped tomatoes, balsamic, basil, and garlic, spooned over olive-oil brushed slices of toasted baguette or rustic bread.
It’s perfect for a party because you can make a large batch of the topping ahead of time, as well as toasting baguette slices. Either bring out a bowl of the bruschetta topping for people to put on their own toasts, or do it for them right before serving.
We suggest using plum tomatoes for bruschetta because they have thicker flesh with fewer seeds and less juice than regular tomatoes, but feel free to use any tomato for this recipe. If you use cherry tomatoes, just quarter them, don't bother blanching or peeling them.
- 6 or 7 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 6-8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced* or chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more or less to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more or less to taste
- 1 baguette French bread or similar Italian bread
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
*To thinly slice basil leaves, stack the leaves on top of each other and roll up like a cigar. Then make thin slices from one end of the basil cigar to the other.
1 Blanch and peel the tomatoes: Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. As the water is heating make shallow cuts in a cross pattern at the tip ends of the tomatoes (this will make the tomatoes easier to peel). Once the water is boiling, remove the pot from the heat. Put the tomatoes in the hot water and blanch for 1 minute.
Remove with a slotted spoon and let sit until cool enough to handle. Then gently peel off the tomato skins. Cut out the stem base with a paring knife. Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters and squeeze out most of the juices and seeds.
2 Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C) with a rack in the top slot of the oven.
3 Chop tomatoes, toss them with garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper: Finely chop the tomatoes and place them in a medium bowl. Mix in the minced garlic, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and the balsamic vinegar. Stir in the thinly sliced basil and add salt and freshly ground black pepper, adding more to taste. Note, tomatoes love salt; you may need to add more than you expect.
4 Toast the baguette slices: Use a bread knife to slice the baguette on the diagonal making half-inch thick slices. Brush one side of each slice with olive oil (a pastry brush helps here) and place olive oil-side down on a baking sheet or roasting pan.
The baguette slices will toast best in the top rack of your oven, so you may need to work in batches to toast them all.
When the oven has reached 450°F (230°C) place the slices in the oven on the top rack and toast for 5 to 6 minutes until lightly browned around the edges.
If you want you can toast the bread slices without coating them first in olive oil. Toast them until lightly browned on both sides. Then cut a clove of garlic in half and rub over one side of the toast. Then brush with olive oil. (See Easiest Ever Garlic Bread.)
4 Serve toasted bread with tomato mixture: Arrange the toasted bread on a platter, olive oil side facing up (the olive oil will help create a temporary barrier keeping the bread from getting soggy from the chopped tomatoes).
Either serve the toasts plain with a bowl of the tomato bruschetta mixture on the side for people to top their own, or use a spoon to gently top each toasted bread slice with some of the tomato mixture. If you top each slice individually, do it right before serving.