Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta ~ why do we feel like we have to reinvent the wheel every time we have friends over? I mean, the Italians have already done it, bruschetta is the perfect party appetizer, and in summer when fabulous tomatoes are coming at us fast and furious, there’s no earthly reason to do anything else.
This is the kind of recipe that makes you look good, like you didn’t try too hard, like you always throw together elegant little snacks like this on a warm night.
It’s an express lane grocery list for sure, just pick up a fresh baguette, some heirloom tomatoes (spend a little time over them, and pick out a nice assortment of colors) and some fresh basil. You already have garlic, balsamic vinegar, and top notch extra virgin olive oil in the house, right?
Let’s get right to the secrets to doing bruschetta right ~
#1, the bread is as important as the topping. Buy a good quality bakery style French baguette from a bakery or the bakery section of your supermarket. Avoid anything too pillowy and soft, or too hard. I like to squeeze the loaves to make sure I’m not buying anything too crusty, which can be hard to eat. The loaf should give to gentle pressure and be nice and fresh.
#2 Buy your bread the same day you are going to serve it, that’s a no brainer. Fresh baguettes go stale in no time.
#3 Slice the bread into 1/2 inch slices, any fatter and the bread can overwhelm the tomato topping.
#4 Use the best olive oil and be liberal with it. Brush a good amount of oil on both sides of each slice of bread before toasting it. The oil gives flavor and gives the bread a nice crunch.
#5 Toast the bread over high enough heat that it gets a little bit of a char, that is the key to great flavor. Do it on a charcoal grill or in a skillet on the stove. (You can toast your bread ahead of time to make prep a lot easier.)
#6 Rub the top side of each slice of bread with the cut half of a clove of garlic, right after it comes off the heat. Don’t use minced garlic in your bruschetta, it’s too overpowering.
#7 I’m not going to insult your intelligence by telling you to use fabulous tomatoes.
#8 Cut your tomatoes nice and small so they’ll fit on the bread without tumbling off. Then douse them with a little olive oil, and a touch of salt. Let them hang out for about 15 – 30 minutes so their juices start to flow. Don’t do this any earlier, and don’t put the tomatoes in the refrigerator, they’ll get mushy.
#9 To cut your basil stack the leaves in a little pile, then roll them up like a little cigar. Slice it into paper thin slices.
#10 I like to add a tiny drizzle of balsamic vinegar to the top of each bruschetta for the finishing touch. Then shower them with a nice amount of fresh cracked black pepper.
The crunch of the bread, the juice from the tomatoes mingling with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar…this simple pleasure can be enjoyed equally well in the company of family and good friends, or alone on the back porch with a glass of wine ~ that’s the beauty of it all.
Assemble 5 or 6 slices and call it dinner…life is good!
Also try ~
- Basil Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes
- Basil Marinated Mozzarella with Summer Tomatoes
- Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad with Kalamata Vinaigrette
- Mushroom and Gruyere Bruschetta
- 1 fresh French or Italian style baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch slices, on the diagonal
- assorted heirloom tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- fresh basil
- balsamic vinegar
- Brush both sides of the sliced bread generously with olive oil. Toast the bread on a hot grill or grill pan on the stove top. Toast both sides until you get a golden color and a little bit of charring. Set the bread aside. (You can do this ahead of time if you like.)
- Use your sharpest knife to finely chop the tomatoes. You want the dice to be small enough so that the chopped tomatoes fit on the small pieces of bread without tumbling off. Keep the different colored tomatoes in separate bowls. Drizzle olive oil over each bowl, add a pinch of salt and pepper, and toss.
- Just before you are ready to serve, top each toast with a heap of the tomatoes, allowing a little of the juice to come along as well, that will soak into and flavor the bread. Top with the shredded basil and a tiny drizzle of balsamic vinegar. I like to add fresh cracked black pepper as the final touch.
Make this heirloom tomato bruschetta your own ~
- Make it with cheese ~ add a thin slice of fresh mozzarella or a thin layer of soft goat cheese to the bread before topping. You could also add shreds of good Parmesan cheese over the top.
- Make it with artichokes or olives ~ add finely chopped artichoke hearts and/ or olives to the chopped tomatoes.