My Sister-In-Law's No-Recipe Bruschetta Is the Ultimate Make-Ahead Hostess Trick

·4 min read

When you get married, you not only gain a new family, you gain a new family's old recipes. Luckily for me, that means Grandma's Texas sheet cake and Boursin scalloped potatoes, my mother-in-law's steak dinner magic, and my sister-in-law's famous bruschetta. No beach trip or summer visit goes without a bowl of colorful bruschetta in the fridge, and it was my brother who finally asked her for the recipe after trying it himself. She realized she'd never actually written it out-it was all based on memory and taste.

Anytime I don't know what to make for company, if the tomatoes look good at the store or farmers' market, I immediately turn to this bruschetta recipe. For something so easy to prepare, it looks Instagram food blogger-worthy and tastes restaurant-worthy.

The first time we hosted friends at our new home, I made the bruschetta. They "couldn't stop eating it." Recently, I made a batch for my book club. We had a small group that night, so only prepared one loaf of bread's worth of crostinis. My mistake: It was gone before we got through one chapter's discussion. One thing is consistently true of this make-ahead bruschetta recipe: I've never served it without someone asking for the recipe afterward.

The bruschetta recipe really isn't a recipe at all, it's more of a guideline. I call it a "to taste" recipe. If you're making it for a small group, use less tomatoes. If you're a garlic lover, add as much as your heart desires (just be sure your guests are equally enthusiastic about it). If you prefer bagel chips over French bread, you do you! The only rule you must follow with this bruschetta recipe is to be sure all your ingredients are fresh, fresh, and fresh.

The absolute best thing about this recipe, other than the fact that it's delicious and healthy, is not only can you make it ahead of time, but you should. The longer it sits in the fridge, the more the flavors meld and the bruschetta reaches a better consistency for topping or scooping. I usually aim to prep the bruschetta the night before I plan to enjoy it so it has a good bit of time to chill. Knowing that all I have to do the day-of is toast some bread and plate it? Perfection. Here's my sister-in-law's make-ahead, no-recipe recipe for bruschetta:

8 to 10 ripe tomatoes
2 to 3 bunches of fresh basil, finely chopped
Fresh garlic cloves, chopped or pressed
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
French baguette and/or pita chips
Prepared balsamic glaze (optional)

Chop the tomatoes and place in a large bowl.
Add chopped basil, 3 to 4 chopped or pressed fresh garlic cloves (or more, depending on the size of the cloves and how many tomatoes you used), about ¾ cup olive oil, and salt to taste.
Continue to add olive oil, garlic, and salt (or more tomatoes) until the mixture reaches a consistency and taste you prefer. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Slice baguette into small pieces and toast or broil until crisp.
Top baguette slices with bruschetta mixture and drizzle with balsamic glaze if desired.
Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil to taste.

And that's it! You know when something is served on crostini, and it's too crispy to the point where you end up with a shirt full of crumbs? I may have found the correct formula for baguette slices that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Of course, this might vary with your oven (mine's old) and thickness of your bread slices. Here goes:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a large sheet pan with foil (no cleanup!).
Brush one side of baguette slices with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Bake, seasoned sides up, for 5 minutes. Flip the slices and cook once more for 3 minutes.

If you're looking for more fun ways to serve this gorgeous summer bruschetta, we love to add a small slice of fresh mozzarella to the bread before topping with the tomato mixture and balsamic glaze. We buy the pre-made balsamic glaze from the store, which makes this recipe even quicker.

With this make-ahead bruschetta recipe in your back pocket, hosting couldn't be easier. You don't even need to utensils for it! I simply place the bruschetta-topped baguette slices on a cheese board or large serving platter, drizzle with balsamic glaze, sprinkle with basil, and serve with some cute paper cocktail napkins on the side. Voila!

Now who needs a signature house cocktail recipe to serve with your new go-to appetizer?