The promise of al fresco dining with friends is in the air! With the weather getting warmer, we are all ready to have some friends over for an outdoor happy hour, hopefully very soon. Homemade bruschetta paired with a glass of wine is always a hit, and this recipe is pretty foolproof too. There is one super key step that my mom has always included that makes this bruschetta stand out and always has friends asking for the recipe.
I am not a fan of bringing an appetizer to someone’s house and worrying that it has gotten cold, or needing to throw it in their oven once I arrive. When we walk in the door, all we really want to do is hang out and have a glass of wine with friends – not worry about cooking. But on the other hand, we all want to put more thought into our dish than just picking up a veggie tray at the grocery store. Well here ya go! This covers all the bases. Quick, easy, and no cooking or warming needed.
What you will need:
- Fresh baguette
- Heirloom tomatoes
- Fresh basil
- Fresh garlic cloves
- Olive oil
- Butter (optional)
Move the oven rack to the top and preheat to 400º F. From here, all it is is slicing and chopping.
While the oven is preheating, slice your baguette on a slight diagonal (looks fancier than a straight cut) with a serrated bread knife. Optional: butter your bread slices. Butter makes everything better, but sometimes I skip this step if I’m feeling lazy or am in a rush. Spread your bread slices on a cookie sheet (or two) and place in the oven for about 2-4 minutes per side until it’s slightly toasted.
While your bread is toasting peel a few cloves of garlic and cut the ends off, leaving the cloves whole.
Wash your tomatoes and basil and get to chopping. I always buy heirloom tomatoes because the difference in taste is so noticeable. They are incredibly flavorful and fresh and the colors are usually much more vibrant and beautiful too. Also…don’t refrigerate your whole tomatoes! It takes so much of the taste away. Use a sharp serrated knife to dice your tomatoes. You will need more than you think, so just keep chopping until you have a big pile.
I usually buy a basil plant at the store if it’s available, instead of the cut basil. The plants are typically the same price, bigger, and don’t go bad like cut basil. Stack your basil leaves, fold them, and slice into small pieces. This is much faster and easier than cutting each leaf individually.
Your bread should be cool enough to handle now. Set your tomatoes and basil aside and grab your garlic cloves. This is my mom’s game changer step that I mentioned at the beginning! It makes your homemade bruschetta soooo tasty.
Take a whole clove of garlic in one hand and a piece of bread in the other and scrape it onto the toast – about two to four passes depending on how much you love garlic. Do this on each piece of bread and place them garlic side up, back on the tray. You will be surprised how quickly you go through those garlic cloves once you get going!
All that is left now is to add all of your toppings. When adding your tomatoes, be generous but remember this is a finger food and you don’t want it to fall everywhere when you pick it up. Next garnish with basil, drizzle with olive oil (generously) and sprinkle with ground salt.
Now move your homemade bruschetta to a serving plate, leaving behind the puddles of olive oil that might make it soggy, and invite the girls over for a glass of wine!
Another crowd pleaser are these casual and sweet white chocolate covered pretzels!