Ah, bruschetta, one of the best ways to enjoy summer in abundance. Pronounced “bruschetta,” this classic Italian appetizer is the perfect way to capture the flavors of garden-ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil. Think of it as heat on toast.
My sister 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 toast or do it for them right before serving.
Bruschetta with tomato and basil Recipe
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 20 min
Yield: Makes 24 small slices, serves 6-10 as an appetizer
Use any flavorful, ripe tomato for this recipe. If you use cherry tomatoes, just quarter them, don’t bother blanching or peeling them.
6 or 7 ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
6-8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced* or chopped
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, more or less to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more or less to taste
1 baguette of 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 them up like a cigar. Then make thin slices from one end of the basil cigar to the other.
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.
Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C) with a rack in the top slot of the oven.
Chop tomatoes, and 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.
5 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 mixtures. If you top each slice individually, do it right before serving.