One of the reasons why I enjoy summer (besides barbecues and sunshine) is because of all the produce that is in-season. Melon and berries often get the spotlight as summer fruits, but think about all the fresh tomatoes! This fruit (we aren’t going to debate on whether tomatoes are fruits or vegetables!) is perfect for one of my favorite appetizers: bruschetta.
Bruschetta — a traditional Italian antipasto — is essentially a tomato mixture on grilled bread slices and is great as an appetizer, snack, side dish or even on its own. They look fancy, but are so easy to make!
With this easy recipe, you’ll be a bruschetta pro and knock the socks (or flip-flops) off your guests all summer long.
- Baguette slices — You can get a whole loaf and slice it or get them pre-sliced.
- Roma tomatoes, garlic and basil leaves — The fresher these ingredients the better, as they are the star of the bruschetta!
- Olive oil, balsamic vinegar and balsamic glaze — Get the extra virgin olive oil. Any balsamic vinegar and glaze would work.
- Plain goat cheese — You may get either a goat cheese log, crumbled cheese, or spread.
- Salt and pepper — Add a dash of this classic combo to bring out the flavors in your tomato mixture.
My easy bruschetta recipe is broken up into two components: the tomato mixture and bruschetta toasts. Let’s start with the tomato mixture:
- First, mince your garlic. In a small skillet, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium-low heat. Add minced garlic and saute until lightly golden for about 2-3 minutes—be careful not to burn your garlic. Pour into a large mixing bowl and let cool.
- Core and dice your tomatoes. Remove excess liquid by draining chopped tomatoes in a colander and patting them dry on a couple pieces of paper towel (you don’t want a soggy bruschetta!). Once dry add into your bowl with cooled garlic oil mixture.
- Stack fresh basil leaves on a cutting board and roll them into a tube. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the basil into ribbons and transfer to the bowl with diced tomatoes.
- Add balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir gently to mix everything together and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge.
While waiting for your tomato mixture to be ready, prep the bruschetta toasts:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit with a rack in the center of the oven.
- Cut the baguette into approximately 1/2” thick slices. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Brush the top side of the baguette slices with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes then broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Keep a close eye to avoid burning.
- Once baguettes are out of the oven, spread a generous amount of goat cheese on each piece then top with the tomato mixture. Finish by drizzling with balsamic glaze.
Expert Tips & Tricks
This bruschetta recipe is simple. But to make sure your bruschetta is full of flavor and crisp (nobody likes soggy bread), I’ve compiled some of my tips and tricks that you’re welcome to try!
Getting flavorful toasted bread:
Originally, bruschetta is made by roasting bread over coals. Try grilling your baguette slices over a charcoal goal for that authentic bruschetta look and taste.
A regular barbecue grill could work, too. Not only does this make your bread taste better, it’s convenient if you’re already having a summer barbecue (without heating up your house even more with an oven).
To give it an extra punch, rub the baguette slices with lightly crushed garlic cloves before brushing with olive oil and grilling.
Ensuring the best tomato mixture: Use roma tomatoes that are “table ripe,” meaning they’re a beautiful,vibrant red from top to bottom and only slightly firm to touch (when they’re overripe, they become more “squishy”, not ripe enough and they’re too firm and lacking flavor), as that’s when these tomatoes are perfectly sweet without being too mushy. You may use ripe cherry tomatoes as well for a sweeter mixture!
Make sure the mixture is able to marinate for long enough — ideally 30 minutes, but 10 minutes minimum — for the best flavor.
Making in advance and storing:
I’m a fan of big batch cooking and saving extras for later. But I’ll admit for this particular recipe, you always want to grill the bread right before eating so you’re not left with stale bread (makes a good jaw workout with all that chewing, but definitely not the best flavor!).
The good news is that you can make the tomato mixture in advance if you need to. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and use within two days.
Do not store it in the freezer! You’ll end up with a pool of tomato mush when it’s thawed… yuck.
Toppings & Variations
I love classic bruschetta, but I won’t say no to switching things up! Here are some of my toppings and variations that I like:
- Add some meat
You’ve got the bread, produce and cheese. Add meat to make it a perfect meal on its own! Pastrami, prosciutto or beef flat iron steak are some of my meat choices. For vegetarians, you can use mushrooms — I recommend cremini or portobello.
- Change the cheese
Goat cheese not your thing? You can substitute for feta, cream, mozzarella or parmesan cheese. You can even combine cheeses, or add chunks of mozzarella into your tomato mixture!
- Spice it up
Top your bruschetta with some crushed red pepper or sliced pepperoncini or add a dash of tabasco for an extra kick!
I hope you enjoy this bruschetta recipe! Leave a comment below if you have tried any other variations, and if you have any expert tricks up your sleeves.
- 8 roma tomatoes, diced
- 8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced (chiffonade)
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 baguette loaf, sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices
- plain goat cheese
- balsamic glaze
- Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and sauté until just starting to turn golden for about 1 minute, ensuring you do not brown it. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Let cool while you chop the tomatoes and basil.
- Core and dice tomatoes. Drain any excess juice in a colander then pat chopped tomatoes dry on a couple pieces of paper towel. Once dry add into your bowl with cooled garlic oil mixture.
- Stack basil leaves on a cutting board and roll them into a tube. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the basil into ribbons and transfer to the bowl with tomatoes.
- Add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir gently to mix everything together and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the center of the oven.
- Cut the baguette into 1/2” thick slices then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Brush the top side of baguette slices with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes then broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Keep a close eye while broiling, they can burn quickly.
- Once baguettes are out of the oven spread goat cheese on each piece then top with bruschetta. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.