Spicy Bruschetta with Heirloom Tomatoes, Red Chili and Fresh Basil


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Enjoy these real summer tomatoes at their most natural. Slice them up and drizzle with fruity olive oil, maybe a splash of good vinegar, and a sprinkle of coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Or use them in one of my favorite summer recipes: classic Italian-style bruschetta, made by toasting country bread slices under the broiler or on the grill, rubbing the toast with olive oil and garlic, and then topping it with a simple chopped tomato salad. It makes a wonderful appetizer, on its own or garnished with Parmesan shavings. Or add some fresh, creamy goat cheese and enjoy the bruschetta as a perfect light summer lunch.Click here for Wolfgang Puck's full introduction.

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  • Tomato Topping:
  • 5 medium-sized sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes
  • 1/3 C. thinly shredded fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed dried red pepper flakes
  • Bread Base:
  • 12 slices country-style Italian bread, each about 3/4 inch thick
  • 1 or 2 large garlic cloves, cut in half
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. thinly shredded fresh basil leaves, for garnish

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Preheat the broiler or grill.

First, prepare the Tomato Topping: With a sharp knife, cut each tomato vertically in half, cutting down through the core at its stem end. Cut a v-shaped notch on either side of the core in each half to remove the core. Then, coarsely cut each half into 1/2-inch dice.

In a medium bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, shredded basil, salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. With a fork or spoon, gently stir the ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Taste and, if necessary, adjust the seasonings. Set this mixture aside at room temperature while you prepare the Bread Base.

To make the base, broil or grill the bread slices until golden brown on both sides. With the cut side of a garlic clove half, generously rub one side of each toasted bread slice. With a basting brush, brush the garlic-rubbed side of each slice with the olive oil. Place the slices on a serving platter or plates with their garlicky sides up.

Using a slotted spoon to drain off excess liquid, divide the tomato mixture evenly among the bread slices, mounding it neatly but casually on top of each slice. Garnish with the 3 Tbs. of shredded fresh basil and serve immediately.

Yield: 4-6 servings

(Chef Wolfgang Puck’s TV series, "Wolfgang Puck’s Cooking Class,"” airs Sundays on the Food Network. Also, his latest cookbook, "Wolfgang Puck Makes It Easy," is now available in bookstores. Write Wolfgang Puck in care of Tribune Media Services Inc., 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, N.Y. 14207.)


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