This easy tomato bruschetta appetizer offers the essence of summer. It’s simply made with ripe tomatoes, fragrant basil, garlic, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. When the ingredients are this good, why stand in the way?
The crostini can be made in the air fryer, on the grill, or in the oven!
When I was nine or ten, an idea struck me in February.
I wanted to put on my boots and gloves, trek through the drifts, and form an arsenal of snowballs. Then I could gather those snowballs, pop them into the freezer, and store them until sometime after the Fourth of July.
Once summer arrived and the humidity was thick enough to scoop it with a spoon, I imagined inviting family and friends over for a snowball fight. In shorts and flip-flops, we’d hurl the snowballs through the air. The temperatures would drop with each frosty hit, until the humidity melted away like the snowballs themselves.
In reality, our freezer didn’t have room for dozens of snowballs. Plus, I was warned that by July those snowballs would be ice blocks.
Still, it it was fun to dream about blistering heat in the darkest days of winter.
As sledding and snowball fights are to a winter’s day, what if we could take the best of other seasons and offer it to another as a gift?
When crisp autumn leaves blow to the ground, what if we could give ourselves a bouquet of lilacs from the prior spring? Or what if in the depths of a blizzard, we could gift ourselves a still warm, ripe-off-the-vine summer tomato?
If I could pack a time capsule for myself with all of summer’s best, I would pack up the juiciest of watermelons, corn on the cob, a basket of tender peaches and delicate figs, and a handful of fragrant basil.
I’d open two mason jars and fill one with the scent of freshly cut grass and the other with the scent of food cooking on the grill.
I’d pack up that delicious heavy feeling that you get from a long day of biking or boating or hiking, making it wonderfully easy to sleep that night with open windows, while the crickets sing love songs just outside.
And when I opened my time capsule in the darkest months of the year, I would lay out a blanket and have a living room picnic.
After I was done, warm from the afterglow of summer, I’d put on my boots and gloves and trek outside through the drifts to roll a snowball and pop it in the freezer, because every yin needs a yang.
And just as a sweet tomato is made noticeably sweeter by way of a splash of vinegar, so is the summer’s sun made ever sweeter by the knowledge of how fleeting it is by its very nature.
Tomato bruschetta appetizer
Since seasonal time capsules are currently for the imagination only, the onus is on us to enjoy the summer’s best while it’s here.
This tomato bruschetta appetizer truly highlights the best of the warm weather months.
This easy bruschetta recipe is simply made with:
- Juicy ripe tomatoes
- Fresh garlic
- Fragrant basil
- A dash of extra virgin olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
How to make a tomato bruschetta appetizer
Start by combining chopped tomatoes, basil, and garlic in a bowl. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt, and dash of pepper.
I like to use a microplane zester for the garlic, so that there aren’t any extra large pieces of raw garlic.
Some people ignore the garlic altogether by rubbing cut garlic onto the crostini instead. I prefer the time saver of slipping the garlic right into the bruschetta, as if it were a tomato salsa, because it kind of is…
Some people de-seed tomatoes before making salsa or bruschetta and remove the watery bits. Personally, I prefer to leave them.
Not only is it easier, I think those pockets have too much ripe tomato flavor to let them go to waste. Plus, there’s something very rustic and homespun about seeing the seeds mingling in the bowl with the bites of tomato. If you prefer to de-seed, though, go for it!
If you leave the juicy bits of the tomatoes behind, your bruschetta will have extra liquid. So either use a slotted spoon when placing the tomatoes onto the toasted crostini, or quickly strain the bruschetta with a fine mesh sieve just before using.
How to toast crostini
There are many ways you can toast crostini.
The most obvious and common is in the oven. During the summer months, though, I prefer to keep my oven time to a minimum. So I either toast the crostini in the air fryer, or I put them on the grill.
In the air fryer, the crostini only takes minutes to get to a beautifully crisp crunch, which works great for layering with bruschetta.
On the grill, you get those lovely grill marks, and it means extra time in the outdoors.
I give crostini cooking options for the air fryer, grill, and oven in the recipe card below.
I can’t think of a better way to use up those tomatoes overflowing at the farmers market and in your neighbors’ gardens. When tomatoes are at their seasonal best, we need to enjoy every second of it.
Easy tomato bruschetta appetizer
- 4 tomatoes medium-sized, diced in medium chunks (about 4 cups)
- 2 garlic cloves small-sized, minced or zested with a Microplane zester
- ¼ cup fresh basil roughly chopped small
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil Plus extra for lightly oiling baguette, if needed
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 baguette cut into ½ inch slices
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, basil, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt & pepper. Cover the bowl and keep it in the refrigerator for a few hours to allow the flavors to meld. (If you’re short on time, you can skip the waiting period.) Once you're ready to use the bruschetta, taste it and add an additional splash of vinegar or pinch of salt, if needed.
- The crostini can be toasted in a variety of ways - pick either the air fryer, grill, or oven.
- TO TOAST THE CROSTINI IN THE AIR FRYER: Put half of the baguette slices in the air fryer. Some overlap is okay. Cook at 380 degrees for 3 to 4 minutes, stopping once halfway through to flip. Watch the crostini during the last minute to insure they don't burn. Remove the slices from the air fryer, and cook the other half of the baguette slices in the same way. (Overfilling the air fryer basket makes for less than optimum results.)
- TO TOAST THE CROSTINI ON THE GRILL: Heat outdoor grill to 400 degrees. Lightly oil the baguette slices and grill on each side for a few minutes, until brown and toasted. Remove from grill.
- TO TOAST THE CROSTINI IN THE OVEN: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the baguette slices in a single layer on two baking sheets. Lightly rub oil on the slices. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stopping to flip the slices halfway through.
- Use a slotted spoon to top the crostini with the tomato bruschetta. (If the bruschetta is extra juicy and you don't have a slotted spoon, pour off any excess liquid by straining the bruschetta with a fine mesh sieve.) Serve on a platter.
Originally posted August 2013. Content updated May 2019.