Bruschetta is an amazingly simple recipe of chopped tomatoes, balsamic, basil, and garlic, spooned over olive-oil brushed slices of toasted baguette that have been rubbed with garlic, and the whole thing is gloriously topped with parmesan cheese. Simple. But absolutely mouthwateringly perfect. So let’s look at how to make it so it isn’t watery, you get the best flavor, the best crunch without hard bread, and can serve it as the best appetizer.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of this recipe, let’s talk about how to pronounce the word “Bruschetta”. I have said it wrong for years, and when I did that in a Tiktok video I got corrected. So, why do people mispronounce bruschetta?
Well, to start, it comes from a Roman dialect, where bruscare is the verb, “to toast or roast” or “to roast over coals.”
English speakers usually mispronounce bruschetta because in English the “sch” is pronounced as “sh”, however, in Italian the “ch” is pronounced as a “k” sound. So we get it wrong because we are trying to make this delicious Italian recipe English.
Bruschetta is pronounced “brew-sketta”, not “brew-shetta”
The name is derived from the Italian verb because traditionally, bruschetta is made by toasting bread slices over a charcoal grill. So despite popular belief, the first thing you need to know about bruschetta besides how to say it, is it is actually the bread, not the topping.
Traditionally bruschetta is made by toasting bread slices over charcoal, then rubbing them with the cut end of a raw garlic clove and drizzling with olive oil, then topping with sliced marinated tomatoes sprinkled with flake salt, and of course basil!
Bruschetta is an antipasto in Italy, or in other words, an appetizer. And there is some variation across regions on how it can be served. Some use fresh olives, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs, etc. But the bread is universally toasted, garlic rubbed, and olive oiled. So with that in mind, let’s talk about this version of bruschetta, and what makes it so perfectly delicious.
What You Need to Make Bruschetta
Bruschetta is very simple, which means the ingredients you use should be high quality so the flavors can really shine. I like keeping it eazy peazy with ingredients that are easy to find. So here is what you need:
- Extra virgin olive oil: Make sure it is good quality oil. To ensure this look for a dark bottle, a pressed or harvested date, and a certification seal.
- Minced fresh garlic: there are times when garlic from a jar works well, but this is one instance where you really want to go with fresh.
- Roma tomatoes: Use your nose, and select tomatoes that smell ripe and delicious.
- Shredded parmesan cheese: Not the kind in the can, fresh shredded is best, bought from the cheese monger or deli section.
- Balsamic vinegar: Look at the label for “Grape must, tradizionale”, and an Italian origin is best like Modena or Reggio Emilia.
- Kosher salt: the kind of salt matters, so get kosher
- Freshly ground black pepper. Fresh is best
- Basil: Fresh!
- Crushed red pepper flakes: fresher is better
- Hearty french baguette, or ciabatta: The bread matters, look for a hearty, rustic, country style bread and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices
- Olive oil cooking spray
How to Make Bruschetta
Making bruschetta is simple, and there is no need to overcomplicate it. Let’s get into it..
Step One: Make Oil Mixture
Heat olive oil in a small skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and saute until just starting to turn golden about 1 minute.
Pour into a large mixing bowl to let cool. Let cool while you chop the tomatoes and basil.
Step Two: Mix in Fresh Stuff
Pour tomatoes into a bowl with the cooled oil mixture. Add parmesan, basil, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Toss mixture well.
Step Three: Toast the Bread
In Italy, the bread is usually a “Pagnotta” which is a durum wheat flour bread, but it is hard to find in the US. So rather than bread made from durum wheat flour and an Italian sourdough starter and baked in a wood oven, we just get a ciabatta or hearty french loaf, and toast it to make crostini.
The crostini should be crispy on top but the inside should be tender. The key to this is the right oven temp. If the oven temperature is too low, the bread slices will bake and become too hard. So here is what you need to do:
Position oven rack a few inches below broil and preheat broiler.
Slice your french baguette or ciabatta bread, and place on a baking sheet, spray lightly with an olive oil cooking spray.
Broil first side until golden brown, about 45 seconds to 1 minute (keep a close eye on them, they’ll brown quickly), then flip slices to opposite side and broil opposite side until golden brown.
This will give you a nice crisp outside while leaving the inside tender. Just be sure to keep a close eye.
Step Four: Serve and Enjoy!
Now take all of that goodness and combine it to create delicious crostini topped with tomato mixture or in other words, bruschetta.
Step Five: Garnish if Desired
Ok, ok, there is one more step…I always love to add a little parmesan cheese and fresh basil as a garnish so you get the visual appeal as well as the flavors!
This recipe is so perfect for a garden party with a nice marinated chicken as a main, or a big salad.
Is bruschetta supposed to be served hot or cold? The bruschetta topping is cold and will have the most flavor if it is cold, but the bread you put it on should be warm. So you tell me? Anyway, no matter how you serve it, this is what I like to eat it with.
- Italian Antipasto Pasta Salad
- Homemade Basil Pesto
- The Ultimate Cheese Tray
- Ricotta Cake, Italian Cheesecake
Tips and Tricks
Making this recipe is Eazy Peazy…
- Tip One: Remove skins and seeds or serve immediately. To avoid runny bruschetta you will likely want to remove the tomato skins and seeds. It will give you better flavor, and texture., But it can be a pain. So pick your poison as the phrase goes. I rarely take this step unless I have a lot of time. But keep in mind, the seeds and skin contain extra water, which can make your bruschetta runny and your toasted bread a little soggy. So top just before serving to avoid this.
- Tip Two: Bruschetta is best eaten fresh. It is just one of those foods that is best right away. However, if you have leftovers, store them in the fridge in a sealed container for a couple of days. The thing is, the vinegar in it will break down the tomatoes and make them a little mushy, so eat within 3 days for best results.
- Tip Three: Serve at room temp. Ok, so you want the oil mixture cooled before adding the tomatoes, and you want the bread freshly taken out of the oven. So it is a contrast from cool to hot, but room temp is best for this dish. Just don’t let it sit out more than 30 minutes in order to preserve food safety. It will last in the fridge as long as the tomatoes stay good, so if you want to make it in the morning to serve that night, go for it, just pull it out 15 minutes or so before serving.
- Tip Four: Pick the best possible tomatoes. Smell them. They are a BIG part of this dish turning out great. Tomatoes without flavor will means bruschetta with limited flavor.
- Tip Five: Use a crusty bread. A nice, hearty, rustic style bread will hold up better to the liquid, support the flavor, and give you the best results. I like a country french, baguette, or ciabatta.
Make Ahead and Storage
How to make this recipe ahead of time: DON’T. Hahaha, it is one of those recipes that is just best fresh. If you really want to do the work ahead, prep everything separately, then combine about 15 minutes before serving.
This classic bruschetta will last in the fridge for up to 3 days. Keep this bruschetta covered in the refrigerator for up to three days, but really not longer. It will be good for as long as the tomatoes are good, but the vinegar will break them down. So, going a little longer isn’t going to hurt anyone or make them sick, but you won’t have the same freshness or consistency.
Other Great Recipes:
- Fettuccine Alfredo
- World’s Best Cheesy Garlic Bread Recipe
- Garlic Bread Twists Recipe
- Homemade Marinara
- Porcupine Meatballs
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil good quality
- 1 1/2 Tbsp minced fresh garlic
- 26 oz. roma tomatoes diced (about 7-8)
- 1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar or more to taste
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt then more to taste
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped basil ribbons chiffonade
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 14.5 oz loaf hearty french baguette, sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices
- Olive oil cooking spray
- For tomato mixture: Heat olive oil in a small skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and saute until just starting to turn golden about 1 minute.
- Pour into a large mixing bowl to let cool. Let cool while you chop the tomatoes and basil.
- Pour tomatoes into a bowl with the cooled oil mixture. Add parmesan, basil, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Toss mixture well.
- Serve immediately with toasted baguette. Garnish with more parmesan if desired.
- Position oven rack a few inches below broil and preheat broiler.
- Slice baguette, and place on a baking sheet, spray lightly with an olive oil cooking spray
- Broil first side until golden brown, about 45 seconds to 1 minute (keep a close eye on them, they’ll brown quickly), then flip slices to opposite side and broil opposite side until golden brown.
Our recipe card software calculates these nutrition facts based on averages for the above ingredients, different brands, and quality of produce/meats may have different nutritional information, always calculate your own based on the specific products you use in order to achieve accurate macros for this recipe.
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