These Confit Tomato Bruschettas with Pesto & Mozzarella make a perfect light bite, appetiser or canape. Fresh basil, slow cooked and garlic infused tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and classic tangy pesto top toasted ciabatta slices for a perfect Caprese salad inspired antipasto. Classic Italian flavours for the win!
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I hadn’t really planned to make bruschettas but then summer arrived and I got carried away with growing tomatoes. And quite frankly I had to figure out something to do with them! Getting a little tired of salads, I made a batch of Confit Tomatoes and published my guide for how to make them.
With a tub of mozzarella in the fridge and a basil plant going a bit potty in the garden, bruschettas were the obvious way to use some of the up. And I thought it would be rude not to share.
What is Bruschetta?
Bruschetta, which I spell differently every time, thank goodness for spellchecker, is simply grilled bread with various toppings. Or no toppings if you are so inclined. But olive oil and garlic are essential.
Bruschetta is a classic Italian antipasto dish. Think of antipasto like an appetizer or starter course of mixed dishes like cured meats, cheeses and grilled vegetables.
The most classic and simple preparation is to toast slices of bread, rub them with a raw garlic clove then drizzle with olive oil and a little salt.
Traditional bruschetta toppings vary from region to region and like most Italian dishes, family to family. I think here in the UK we are most familiar with tomatoes featuring quite heavily and it is certainly one of my favourite ways to make them.
What is Caprese Salad?
Caprese salad consists of the classic Italian combination of tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil with salt and olive oil. It is simple and the colours represent the Italian flag.
I’ve taken the spirit of the salad flavours to inspire my confit tomato bruschettas. Pesto amps up the basil notes and adds a punch of garlic. And the confit tomatoes provide a deeper and sweeter tomato element. Fresh mozzarella remains the crowning glory along with fresh basil leaves.
How to Serve Confit Tomato Bruschettas
I don’t like to make these toasts too far in advance in case the toast element itself gets a bit soggy. But I don’t generally worry about the toasted ciabatta being served warm. Room temperature is just fine.
I have written the recipe to make 6 relatively substantial bruschettas. How many you will serve will depend on your purpose.
As a light snack, maybe one will be enough. For smaller appetites, one will likely be plenty as an appetizer. For a heartier meal, I’d serve two as the starter course. And for a lunch or light dinner with just the bruschettas, I think three per portion would be perfect.
To serve the toasts as a canape, I would cut each slice of bread into 4 pieces and top them individually. They will be more than large enough still!
Another slightly cheeky option is to actually pop the whole thing (without the fresh basil leaves) under the grill (broiler) for a few moments. This will warm the tomatoes and melt the mozzarella. Top with the basil and you have perfect little pizza toasts.
Make Caprese Bruschetta into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
Bruschetta would be a perfect starter before a bowl of my creamy Spaghetti Carbonara. Whilst not really directly Italian inspired, Chorizo & Butternut Risotto would also be a great second course. And again whilst not actually Italian in origin, the flavours of Caesar Salad would work as an extra side.
Don’t forget to head over to my Feast Collection pages to find all of my tips and tricks to help you host a fun and stress-free feast. Plus remember to check out my recipe index to create your own awesome Feast!
Ingredients for Confit Tomato & Pesto Bruschettas
It is possible to buy confit tomatoes but making your own is super easy. Plus you end up with the most amazing infused olive oil which is ideal to use when toasting the ciabatta and drizzling over to finish.
If you don’t have or want to use confit tomatoes, you could use roasted cherry tomatoes, sun blushed tomatoes or even fresh raw tomatoes. I would avoid fully sundried tomatoes as the flavour will simply be too strong.
If using fresh tomatoes, I would make sure to cut them in half or quarters before adding to the toasts.
I use ciabatta bread for these bruschettas. It isn’t generally my favourite bread as I find it quite dry on the whole. As a general rule I’ll plump for a focaccia any day of the week. But for this recipe, ciabatta is perfect.
The reason for this is that the loaves are generally quite flat and the slices are the perfect size when sliced on an angle. Ciabatta is quite airy with lots of holes which makes the toasts less heavy than they otherwise would be. The holes are also great receptacles for bit of pesto, mozzarella and tasty olive oil.
And because we’re toasting the bread, it really doesn’t matter that its on the drier side. In fact it works in the bruschettas favour.
You can of course use other breads. A french style baguette is an obvious choice which is also fairly light. I would avoid anything oil heavy like focaccia and heavy sourdoughs. I would also generally advise to keep to white breads as the flavour of the bread shouldn’t really overwhelm the topping flavours.
I do make my own homemade pesto but I will admit that I have not yet got around to writing up my recipe.
So to make your own, I would recommend checking out this Easy Homemade Pesto recipe from Recipes Made Easy. This is a pretty traditional recipe like the one I make. Fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, oil, garlic, salt and parmesan.
I do tend to err on the side of tradition with pesto but there are lots of twists on the classic out there. Here are some of my favourites:
- Hazelnut Pesto from Curly’s Cooking
- Wild Garlic Pesto from Farmersgirl Kitchen
- Almond Pesto from The Family Food Kitchen
- Carrot Top Pesto from Fuss Free Flavours
- Vegan Pesto from The Veg Space
If you would rather buy than make pesto, there are some great options available. What I would suggest is to look for a fresh option in the chiller section rather than buying a shelf stable jar. The flavour is far superior.
You can get other variations of pesto like red pesto etc. Most of these would also work on these bruschettas but the freshness of green basil pesto really gives the best combination of flavours.
I use different types of mozzarella for different purposes. I prefer to use ready grated for pizzas, bacon & cheese wraps and my tear and share garlic bread because it is dry and doesn’t leach liquid.
The mozzarella block variety is my preference for my mozzarella carrozza – it’s drier than fresh but more moist than grated. But for a fresh dish like this, proper fresh mozzarella is the only way forward.
I would choose the best mozzarella you can afford. The creamy flavour is a huge part of this bruschetta and it will make a difference. Buffalo mozzarella is usually considered to be superior than the cow milk variety.
I’ve used mozzarella pearls in this recipe but you can very easily use a larger ball. Be sure to tear the cheese apart rather than chop it. It makes for a much nicer eating experience than sharp edged cubes.
When looking for great quality mozzarella, it is easy to be swayed by a creamy ball of burrata. Burrata is essentially a ball of mozzarella wrapped around a filling of cream and cheese curds.
By all means please use burrata but only if you are going to make and eat the bruschetta straight away. Leaving it to sit for any time will just result in soggy toast which would be both a tragedy and waste of the creamy burrata filling.
If you have made your own confit tomatoes then please use the cooking oil from the process in place of olive oil in this recipe. Otherwise any good quality virgin olive oil will work in this recipe.
If you are using bought or alternative tomatoes, you could use a garlic infused oil instead.
Unless you have a strong preference, I would recommend using olive oil rather than another oil as the flavour perfectly complements the Caprese inspired flavours of this recipe.
Please do not skimp on the seasoning stage. Mozzarella without salt is a sadness that no one should have to bear.
Please use fresh, not dried basil. The fresh leaves may look like a garnish but actually they are a huge part of the flavour of these bruschettas.
I had lots of cute small leaves to use. If you can only find larger leaves, simply tear them into smaller pieces. But please do not cut them with a knife as basil does not react well to being sliced. It starts to go grey and look oddly sad.
Take the basic concept of a bruschetta and the topping options are endless. I’ve tried everything from griddled courgettes with creamy whipped ricotta to shredded roast chicken with fresh chopped tomatoes and creamy caesar dressing.
But sticking with the confit tomato bruschetta theme, here are some of my suggested ingredients which you could mix and match as toppings. Although do put some thought into the combinations.
- Aged balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze
- Prosciutto – either as it comes or crisped up in a dry pan
- Other cheeses – ricotta, brie, parmesan shavings
- Red onions – thinly sliced raw or quick pickled
- Roasted squash or pumpkin
- Bell peppers – raw, roasted or griddled
I more often than not take the option to drizzle over a little balsamic glaze – the sweet tang is perfect with the classic caprese flavours.
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
These Confit Tomato Bruschettas with Pesto & Mozzarella are suitable for vegetarians providing that a vegetarian pesto is used. Traditional pestos include parmesan which is not suitable for vegetarians. But they can easily be made with an alternative Italian style hard cheese.
To make vegan bruschettas, you will need to use both a vegan pesto and an alternative for the mozzarella. There are many vegan alternatives available now but if a mozzarella style cheese can’t be found, using a vegan cream cheese on top of the pesto layer would be a good alternative.
Make it Allergy Friendly
This recipe is free from egg.
Gluten Free: To make gluten free bruschettas, simply switch the ciabatta bread for a gluten free bread. If a ciabatta style isn’t available, a baguette type will work well.
Nut Free: Traditional pesto contains pine nuts so you will need to looks for a nut free pesto. If you are making your own, you can simply omit the nuts.
Dairy Free: To make a dairy free option, check out my suggestions for making a vegan version.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Confit Tomato Bruschettas
Other than toasting the ciabatta bread, much of this recipe is an assembly job and therefore there is no real specialist equipment needed.
I do however recommend that you make sure you have a decent Serrated Bread Knife, not just for this recipe but for in the kitchen general. A good bread knife will allow you to easily cut neat slices on an angle without squishing the bread.
Other than a Baking Tray to pop the bread under the grill, a Silicone Pastry Brush is really the only other piece of kit that I recommend. I find that the silicone versions are much easier to clean than the old fashioned nylon versions and you lose less oil to the bristles.
If you don’t have a brush you can go for a drizzle instead.
If you don’t want to grill (broil) the bread, you can alternatively toast it on a Griddle Pan.
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
I would actually recommend that the bruschettas are not assembled much more than 20 or 30 minutes before they’re being served. The pesto and the mozzarella especially can start to make the crispy bread go soggy.
What you can do is oil and toast the bread up to a couple of days in advance. Once they’re fully cooled you can keep them in an airtight container. Just bring them out ready to assemble when you’re about to serve.
I would generally try to only assemble as many toasts as you are confident will get eaten. If you have a larger crowd and you are not sure how many will be needed, you could consider setting up a “top your own bruschetta” bar. This will mean only the toasts that are going to be eaten get topped.
If this is isn’t possible, most likely if you are serving mini bruschettas as a canape, you could eat them the next day. I would employ my “warm them under the grill” method for this. I think they will be better warmed than eaten cold. Make sure to keep them in the fridge overnight.
Tomato, Pesto & Mozzarella Bruschetta Tips
Slicing the bread on an angle will mean increased surface area of soft bread goodness. And it reduces the amount of thick crust you need to bite through to get to the good stuff.
How thick you slice the bread is ultimately up to you but I would generally try not to go much thicker than around 2cm or 3/4″. Much thicker and it will be unpleasant to try and bite through.
If your mozzarella is very wet, give it a little pat dry with some kitchen paper. Whilst you want the mozzarella to be soft and moist, you don’t want it to be wet and soggy.
Tear, don’t cut the mozzarella. And the same for any basil leaves. Slicing them with a knife discolours the basil and tearing looks much nicer too.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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More Cheesy Recipes
Confit Tomato Bruschettas with Pesto & Mozzarella
- 150 g Ciabatta - approx
- 4 tbsp Olive Oil - or oil from confit tomatoes + more for serving
- 40 g Pesto - approx
- 300 g Confit Tomatoes - approx. 5 cherry tomatoes per toast
- 18 Mozzarella Pearls - or fresh mozzarella ball
- 1/8 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
- 18 Fresh Basil Leaves - Small
- Turn on the grill/broiler to high and allow to heat.
- Use a serrated knife to slice roughly 150g Ciabatta into 6 slices. Try to slice on the diagonal to maximise the surface area. (Ignore the 10 slices in the photos – I got carried away!)
- Place the bread on a baking tray and brush roughly half of 4 tbsp Olive Oil or the cooking oil from the confit tomatoes over one side of the bread slices.
- Turn the bread and repeat on the other side.
- Put the ciabatta under the grill/broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, until the bread is lightly toasted. Keep a close eye on the bread. Turn the slices over and repeat on the other side.
- Split roughly 40g Pesto across the 6 toasts. Spread the pesto to the edges as much as possible.
- Pile 5 Confit Cherry Tomatoes onto each toast.
- Dry off 18 Mozzarella Pearls and tear them into smaller pieces. Tuck them around the tomatoes on each toast – around 3 pearls per toast.
- Crush around ⅛ tsp Sea Salt Flakes between your fingers and sprinkle over the mozzarella and tomatoes from a height so the seasoning is evenly spread across the toppings.
- Garnish with 18 Small Fresh Basil Leaves – I like to tuck them in between the tomatoes.
- Drizzle with a little extra Olive Oil, or even better, the tomato confit oil and serve!