Italian Pesto Bruschetta Recipe (With Tomato and Basil)

Pesto Bruschetta with Marinated Tomatoes is the ultimate summer appetizer, lunch, or snack! Juicy tomatoes, fresh basil, homemade pesto, and golden brown slices of bread – this is one of my favorite things to make! Top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or balsamic glaze for an extra special treat. 

Pesto bruschetta on a serving platter with tomatoes.

This recipe is inspired by my first trip to Italy with my husband when we visited Cinque Terre. It was my second time to Italy and the beautiful Cinque Terre, but sharing one of my favorite places with Eric made the trip that much more special. We ate a LOT of good pesto and a lot of bruschetta on that trip – nothing beats classic basil pesto, fresh mozzarella, and fresh produce from Italy. I wanted to share recipes inspired by the Italian coastal towns I love so much, and this is how my recipe was born! The magic of this dish comes from the flavorful, fresh tomatoes. I know you will love this tomato bruschetta, made extra special with a layer of homemade basil pesto underneath the perfect tomato topping. Don’t forget to try my pesto recipe, as well as my other Italian recipes such as Trofie al Pesto!

Pieces of pesto bruschetta topped with tomatoes and onions on a wooden cutting board. Around the pesto crostini are basil and tomatoes.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Fresh ingredients –  One of the standout features of this dish is the emphasis on fresh, vibrant ingredients. From the fragrant basil in the pesto to the juicy, ripe tomatoes, each component contributes to a burst of flavor that can’t be replicated with anything less than the freshest produce. By using ingredients at the peak of their seasonality, you’re not only enjoying unparalleled taste but also ensuring that your dish is brimming with nutrients and natural goodness.
  • Customizable – Another reason you.will adore this dish is its incredible versatility. You can tailor the toppings to suit your preferences or whatever happens in your pantry or fridge. Have some heirloom tomatoes begging to be used? Go ahead and marinate them with your favorite herbs and spices. Craving a bit of creaminess? Sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan or crumble tangy goat cheese on top. The endless possibilities make it the perfect dish for both seasoned home cooks and kitchen novices alike.

What is Bruschetta?

Contrary to popular belief, the word bruschetta does not refer to a tomato mixture… I see a ton of recipes on the internet called “bruschetta chicken” and “bruschetta pasta,” and I’m here to tell you that your recipe titles do not make sense! Bruschetta refers to the toasted baguette slice.

Bruschetta is an Italian appetizer that typically consists of toasted bread slices rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil. The bread is often topped with various ingredients such as tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, or prosciutto, creating a delicious and versatile dish.

The term “bruschetta” originates from the Italian word “bruscare,” which means “to roast over coals” or “to toast.” Traditionally, bruschetta was made by grilling bread over an open flame, giving it a distinctive smoky flavor. Today, it’s more commonly prepared by toasting or grilling bread in an oven or on a stovetop.

In Italian cuisine, bruschetta is often served as an antipasto (appetizer) or as a light meal on its own. It’s a beloved dish known for its simplicity, freshness, and ability to showcase the vibrant flavors of seasonal ingredients.

Ingredients

Ingredients for pesto bruschetta.
  • Bread (typically baguette or ciabatta) – The cornerstone of bruschetta, bread is the sturdy base for this easy appetizer. Whether you opt for the chewy interior of a ciabatta or the crisp crust of a baguette, the bread provides the perfect vehicle to showcase the vibrant flavors of the toppings.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – A key component of Italian cuisine, extra-virgin olive oil adds richness and depth to bruschetta. Drizzled generously over the toasted bread and other ingredients, it not only enhances the flavor but also adds a luxurious texture that elevates the dish.
  • Garlic – With its pungent aroma and robust flavor, garlic clove lends a distinctive kick to bruschetta. 
  • Tomatoes – Juicy, ripe tomatoes are the star of the show in this classic Italian dish. Tomatoes bring a burst of freshness and sweetness that perfectly complements the other ingredients. You can use any tomatoes you’d like for this recipe – roma tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes.. whatever you can find!
  • Red onion – Adding a subtle sharpness and vibrant color, red onion provides a delightful contrast to the sweetness of the tomatoes. 
  • Basil – Fragrant and herbaceous, basil is a quintessential ingredient in Italian cooking. Bail is used in two ways in this dish: mixed with the tomatoes and blended into a vibrant pesto.
  • Italian seasoning blend – A blend of dried herbs such as oregano, thyme, and rosemary, Italian seasoning adds depth and complexity to the bruschetta’s flavor.
  • Pesto – Bursting with the bold flavors of fresh basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil, pesto adds a luscious, herbaceous dimension to bruschetta. Whether spread generously over the toasted Italian bread or used as a topping for the tomatoes, pesto elevates the dish to new heights of culinary excellence. Try my Genovese Pesto, Walnut Pesto, or Nut-Free Pesto for this!

Substitutions and Additions

  • Bread – You can use other types of crusty bread like sourdough, focaccia, or even whole grain bread for a healthier twist.
  • Add cheese – You can add some cheese, such as Parmigiano Reggiano or mozzarella, to this dish – yum!
  • Olives – Add sliced Kalamata olives or green olives for a briny bite that pairs perfectly with the fresh flavors of the pesto and tomatoes.
  • Balsamic glaze – Drizzle a balsamic glaze over the top for a sweet and tangy finish that complements the other ingredients beautifully. If you’re willing to splurge, use authentic aged balsamic from Modena (my favorite)! 

Step by Step Instructions

Cherry tomatoes, basil, red onion, salt, and pepper in a small bowl before being mixed for pesto bruschetta.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 °Fahrenheit (204 °Celsius). Add the diced tomatoes, red onion, salt, pepper, olive oil, and basil to a small bowl. Note: if you are making this ahead, do not add the basil yet. You will add the basil right before serving if you are having this later.

Marinated cherry tomatoes with olive oil, red onion, basil, salt, and pepper.

Step 2: Mix the ingredients and set aside. If you are making this ahead of time, the tomato mixture can be stored in the fridge, although you should take it out 10 minutes before you serve so it can be brought back to the right temp.

Baguette slices drizzled with olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet.

Step 3: Brush each side of the bread with oil and place on a large sheet pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes, turning halfway through.

Toasted baguette slices on a rimmed baking sheet.

Step 4: Once the toasts are done, sprinkle a little bit of salt on the tops, and let cool for 5 minutes before rubbing the tops with the cut garlic.

Baguette slices topped with pesto on a rimmed baking sheet.

Step 5: Time to assemble! Divide the pesto among the toasts, using the back of a spoon or a knife to spread.

Pesto bruschetta with tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet.

Step 6: Then, top with a generous amount of the tomato mixture. Serve immediately!

Pieces of pesto bruschetta topped with tomatoes and onion.

Tips and Notes

  • Assemble just before serving – For the freshest and most vibrant flavors, wait to assemble the bruschetta with the marinated tomatoes and pesto until right before you’re ready to serve it. This will prevent the bread from becoming soggy and ensure that each bite bursts with freshness and texture. No one wants soggy bruschetta!
  • Use high-quality ingredients – Since this dish relies on simple, fresh ingredients, it’s important to use high-quality produce and olive oil for the best results. Fresh, ripe tomatoes, fragrant basil, and extra virgin olive oil will elevate the flavors and make your bruschetta truly exceptional.
Pesto crostini with tomatoes ona. little plate with some basil scattered around.

Serving Suggestions

  • Wine pairing – For a classic Italian pairing, consider serving your pesto bruschetta with a crisp and refreshing Pinot Grigio or a light-bodied Chianti. The bright acidity and fruity notes of these wines complement the fresh flavors of the bruschetta beautifully.
  • As a starter or appetizer platter – Arrange your pesto bruschetta alongside other Italian appetizers such as prosciutto-wrapped melon, caprese skewers, and marinated olives for a delightful antipasto platter. 
  • Accompanied by soup or salad – Pair your pesto bruschetta with a simple Italian soup or salad for a light and satisfying meal. Serve it alongside a bowl of minestrone soup or a classic Caesar salad for a balanced and flavorful meal. 

Making Pesto Bruschetta Ahead

  • Prepare components separately – Make marinated tomatoes and pesto ahead. Keep them refrigerated.
  • Toast bread in advance – Toast bread slices and store at room temperature.
  • Assemble before serving – Spread pesto on bread slices just before serving. Top with marinated tomatoes.
  • Serve immediately – Enjoy fresh bruschetta once assembled.

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it! Tag @seasonedandsalted on Instagram and leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review below!

A hand picking up a piece of pesto bruschetta topped with tomatoes.

Italian Pesto Bruschetta Recipe (With Tomato and Basil)

Allie Hagerty
Enjoy the taste of Italy with this Pesto Bruschetta with Marinated Tomatoes recipe. A fresh and flavorful summer dish that's easy to make.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Appetizer, Lunch
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12 servings
Calories 132 kcal

Equipment

  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cups
  • cutting board
  • chef’s knife
  • sheet pan

Ingredients
  

For the Marinated Tomatoes

  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, minced
  • 6 leaves basil, chiffonade*
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the Bruschetta (Crostini)

  • 1 small baguette
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half

Other

  • 1/2 cup pesto

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 °Fahrenheit (204 °Celsius). Slice your baguette and place the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Prepare the Marinated Tomatoes

  • Add the diced tomatoes, red onion, salt, pepper, olive oil, and basil to a small bowl. Note: if you are making this ahead, do not add the basil yet. You will add the basil right before serving if you are having this later.
  • Mix the ingreidnets and set aside. If you are making this ahead of time, the tomato mixture can be stored in the fridge, although, you should take it out 10 minutes before you serve so it can be brought back to the right temp.

Toast the Bruschetta

  • Brush each side of the bread with oil and place on a large sheet pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes, turning halfway through.

Assemble

  • Once the toasts are done, sprinkle a little bit of salt on the tops, and let cool for 5 minutes before rubbing the tops with the cut garlic.
  • Time to assemble! Divide the pesto among the toasts, using the back of a spoon or a knife to spread.
  • Then, top with a generous amount of the tomato mixture. Serve immediately!

Notes

  • Assemble just before serving – For the freshest and most vibrant flavors, wait to assemble the bruschetta with the marinated tomatoes and pesto until right before you’re ready to serve it. This will prevent the bread from becoming soggy and ensure that each bite bursts with freshness and texture. No one wants soggy bruschetta!
  • Use high-quality ingredients – Since this dish relies on simple, fresh ingredients, it’s important to use high-quality produce and olive oil for the best results. Fresh, ripe tomatoes, fragrant basil, and extra virgin olive oil will elevate the flavors and make your bruschetta truly exceptional.

Nutrition

Calories: 132kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 3gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 423mgPotassium: 104mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 269IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 52mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I love this recipe!! It’s very easy, and the tomatoes taste so good this way. I didn’t have baguette so I used some ciabatta I had and it still tasted great.

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