How to Make Classic Tomato Bruschetta

How to Make Classic Tomato Bruschetta

Bruschetta is one of the simplest and quickest things in the world to make, and high-quality ingredients make it fantastically delicious. There are many different varieties of bruschetta, but the most well-known version is made with grilled slices of bread rubbed with raw garlic and topped with chopped fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and salt.

What Exactly Is Bruschetta?

At its most basic bruschetta—pronounced “broo-skeh-tuh” with a “k” sound—is simply toasted or grilled bread with plenty of olive oil. The word comes from the Italian verb bruscare, which means to toast or roast, explains legendary Italian cookbook author Marcella Hazan in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. “On those brisk days that bridge the passage from fall to winter, and signal the release of the year’s freshly pressed olive oil, toasting bread over a smoky fire and soaking it with spicy, laser-green newly minted oil is a practice probably as old as Rome itself,” Hazan writes in the book. “From Rome bruschetta spread through the rest of central Italy—Umbria, Tuscany, Abruzzi—and acquired other ingredients: invariably now, garlic and, here and there, tomatoes.”

The Ingredients for Good Bruschetta

Use the freshest, best-quality ingredients you can to make the best bruschetta. Because there are only a few ingredients, each one is important. Here's what you'll need to make this classic version of bruschetta:

  • Bread: Choose a good rustic Tuscan or Italian bread for the tastiest base. You can buy it from your favorite baker or make your own Italian bread.
  • Olive oil: High-quality, fruity extra virgin olive oil is best.
  • Garlic: Large, fat garlic cloves are the easiest to use in this recipe since you’ll be rubbing them right on the bread.
  • Tomatoes: Vine-ripened tomatoes are at their best in the summer, but sometimes you can find good hothouse and cherry tomatoes at the grocery store during other times of the year. If you can find heirloom tomatoes, these tend to be full of flavor. Regardless of the variety of tomato you use, choose medium-ripe tomatoes—you want them to be ripe enough to have plenty of flavor but not so ripe that they’re soupy.
  • Flaky sea salt: Here’s the time to pull out your favorite finishing salt. Salt with large flakes, such as Maldon, looks and tastes great on bruschetta.
  • Basil: While you’re picking up those farm-fresh tomatoes, get a pretty bunch of basil for the final garnish on your bruschetta.

How to Serve Bruschetta

Since the ideal preparation of bruschetta involves toasting the bread slices on a charcoal grill, bruschetta is a great starter for any summer cookout or barbecue. Serve the bruschetta while the bread is still warm from the grill. A rosato (rosé) or a lambrusco is a a great wine pairing with this summery treat.

“Bruschetta is a very appetizing dish, simple and easy to make. The recipe is very refreshing, which makes it perfect for summer picnics and barbecues. I used vine-ripened tomatoes as recipe suggests with a good quality olive oil and the result was just amazing.” —Tara Omidvar

How to Make Authentic Bruschetta/tester image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 medium ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 4 slices Tuscan bread, or any other rustic Italian loaf

  • 2 cloves garlic, halved

  • Flaky sea salt, for garnish

  • Coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Authentic Bruschetta ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Combine the chopped tomatoes and half of the olive oil in a bowl and toss. Marinate the tomatoes for about 10 minutes at room temperature.

    chopped tomatoes and olive oil in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Toast the bread slices on a charcoal grill, in the oven, or in a toaster until golden-brown.

    grill pieces of bread, grill marks on bread

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Gently rub the grilled slices of bread with the cut end of the raw garlic cloves. 

    rub the grilled slices of bread with the cut end of the raw garlic clove

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Top each slice with the marinated tomatoes. Sprinkling with flaky sea salt and chopped fresh basil leaves. Finish with a drizzle of the remaining olive oil. Serve immediately.

    Authentic Bruschetta on toasted bread

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Recipe Variations

  • If you omit the tomatoes and basil and just drizzle the garlic-rubbed toasted slices with extra-virgin olive oil, you have what is called fettunta (literally, “oily slice”) in Tuscany, or the Italian version of garlic bread.
  • Romans sometimes top their bruschetta with anchovies and fresh mozzarella.
  • Sicilians might use fresh oregano instead of fresh basil.
  • Another Tuscan favorite is white cannellini beans on top of the bruschetta instead of tomatoes, topped with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • A winter version of Tuscan-style bruschetta incorporates boiled dinosaur kale (also known as Tuscan kale, lacinato kale, or cavolo nero).

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