The ultimate summer appetizer or starter course, Cherry Tomato Bruschetta features plump, ripe, super flavorful cherry tomatoes, marinated in a lovely herby dressing, and then draped over creamy burrata on fried bread. Irresistible!
If we’re going to talk summer snacks and nibbles, no discussion would be complete without bringing bruschetta into the picture. I can’t think of anything more classically “summer” than local tomatoes with fresh cheese on crispy bread.
Sorry, burgers, I know you’re probably the crowd fave, but in my book, you just can’t hold a candle to the tomato-topped bruschetta!
What is Bruschetta?
Bruschetta is an Italian appetizer — or antipasto — consisting of grilled or toasted bread that’s rubbed with a garlic clove, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and then topped with something savory, usually fresh tomatoes and herbs. And more olive oil!
It’s a particularly lovely treat in the summer because the wheaty, malty flavor foundation of the bread lets seasonal tomatoes shine, especially the extra flavorful heirloom varieties.
Also, by the way, it’s pronounced broo-SKEH-tuh, not broo-SHEH-tuh (capital letters indicate emphasis)!
What kind of tomatoes to use?
I would never turn down a tomato sandwich of any kind. Thick slices, thin slices, chopped, quartered — I’ll take it!
But for this bruschetta, as hinted at by the title, we’re using cherry tomatoes because they’re extra flavorful, especially when marinated.
And when halved or quartered, they fit perfectly and chunkily on the slices of bread.
If you’re lucky enough to have a selection to choose from — from your own garden or the farmers’ market — I would recommend any of these cherry tomato varieties: Black Cherry, Midnight Snack, Sungold, Sunchocola, Matt’s Wild Cherry, Sunsugar, Green Envy, Italian Ice, Blondkopfchen, Isis Candy, and Super Sweet 100.
Each has its own unique charms, but all share deep tomato flavors with a balance of sweet and acid. Tomato lover’s heaven!
Although not a required part of the recipe, a rainbow of cherry tomatoes creates a beautiful presentation and kaleidoscope of tomato flavors.
What is burrata?
Burrata is a brilliant combination of a fresh, soft mozzarella ball filled with a thick cream and stracciatella (cheese curds). When you slice it, the creamy center oozes out gently, and when you get a forkful of both mozzarella and cream … wow! Fresh cheese perfection.
Depending on the brand, burrata is usually packaged in a half-pound tub filled with water (so be careful opening the plastic seal!). Some brands package the cheese as one big tennis-ball-sized ball. Others create smaller, hard-boiled-egg-sized balls, packing 4 in one tub. Both are fine here!
As mentioned, the burrata ball is sliceable and, even given the creamy curds inside, is only slightly messy. But it’s a good mess! Slice the burrata about 1/4″ thick, keeping the cream tucked in as best as you can until you’re ready to transfer them to the bruschetta.
The combination of tomatoes and burrata is especially lovely because you have the sweet acidity of the tomato tempered by the creamy richness of the cheese.
All on crispy, olive-oily toast. Pure bruschetta bliss.
What kind of bread to use?
The quick answer: any bakery-style bread that is not the squishy sandwich bread from the bread aisle.
And the full answer is any substantial bread with a slightly crusty crust will work beautifully. And by “crusty crust” I mean, of course, bread that you cannot wad up into a tight little ball (see above re: squishy sandwich bread). Crust that has a bit of resistance to it. Not tooth-crackingly crusty, but golden and wonderful.
I usually head straight for the sourdough baguettes or boules at the bakery, but sometimes I’m in the mood for a more earthy take, such as a nice multigrain or whole wheat loaf.
French baguettes are always lovely. And sometimes I luck out and time my visit so that an interesting country loaf option is available, such as potato bread or a rich brioche. The latter two are softer breads, but they will fry up quite sturdily.
How to prepare the fried bread
Bruschetta is traditionally grilled, but any toasty prep of the bread is going to create a delicious result. Here, we’re going to pan-fry the bread in some olive oil. It only takes about 10 minutes, and there’s no french-fry-level mess from the oil.
- In a medium skillet — nonstick or cast iron works great — pour a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom.
- Heat the pan on medium until the surface of the oil begins to shimmer.
- Add as many slices of bread that will fit flat in the pan (probably two).
- Let the heat and hot oil do their thing to toast the bread. This will take five to 10 minutes. Lift up a corner of the bread slices every few minutes to check on the progress. The underside should be golden from edge to edge.
- Flip the slices once. Most of the oil will probably have been absorbed by the other side. That’s okay; don’t add more.
- When the second is nicely toasted, use a spatula to remove the slices to a plate or cutting board, flipping them over so the fried side is face up, to cool.
- Repeat with the remaining bread slices.
The olive-oily, perfectly toasted bread is just so dreamy. It’s my favorite way to enjoy bruschetta of any kind.
Assemble the Cherry Tomato Bruschetta
Note that traditionally with bruschetta, bread is rubbed with the cut side of half of a garlic clove to infuse a gentle garlic flavor. We’re going to skip that step here, because our marinated cherry tomatoes already have fresh garlic in the marinade. (But if you don’t want to make the marinated cherry tomatoes, see the notes in the recipe. It’s okay!)
- Place a slice of fried bread, darker side up, on a plate.
- Shingle several slices of burrata across the bread slice, from tip to tip.
- Season the burrata lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Spoon the prepared marinated cherry tomatoes over the burrata.
- If desired, add a dusting of freshly minced sweet basil over the tomatoes.
- Serve immediately.
What can you serve with Cherry Tomato Bruschetta
Because I work from home, this appetizer is a particularly delightful lunch that I can quickly assemble while the bread is frying.
I really enjoy this as a side to a big green salad, such as this Summer Chopped Salad, topped with more marinated cherry tomatoes. On rainy days, it’s also a perfect match for a light, summery soup leftover from dinner (such as Broccoli Cauliflower Soup or Chilled Avocado Soup).
It’s also an impressive treat for a mimosa brunch with friends. However you serve it, you’ll enjoy this scrumptious summer treat featuring summer’s best treasure from the garden, the cherry tomato.
More bruschetta recipes:
Cherry Tomato Bruschetta
- extra virgin olive oil
- 6 slices of thick bakery-style bread , such as sourdough
- 8 ounces burrata , sliced into 1/4″ slices
- salt and pepper
- 1 recipe Marinated Cherry Tomatoes (see notes)
- In a medium skillet, pour a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom.
- Heat on medium until the surface of the oil begins to shimmer.
- Add as many slices of bread that will fit flat in the pan.
- Let the heat and hot oil do its thing to toast the bread. This will take five to 10 minutes. Lift up a corner of the bread slices every few minutes to check on the progress.
- The underside should be golden from edge to edge.
- Flip the slices once. Most of the oil will probably have been absorbed by the other side; don’t add more.
- When the second is lightly toasted, use a spatula to remove the slices to a plate or cutting board, flipping them over so the fried side is face up, to cool.
- When the bread can be handled, shingle 3 or 4 slices of burrata (plus the cream) on each slice of bread, tip to tip. Lightly season the burrata with fine salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Spoon the tomatoes and marinade over the burrata. Serve immediately.