Italian Bread with Plum Tomatoes: The Joy of Bruschetta

by DerdriuMarriner

Italian bread can be eaten in bite-sized chunks or politely cut slices. Either way, it also can be slathered with butter or topping. Featured is a recipe for plum tomato topping.

Italian bread (pan italiano) is famous for its crustiness. It also is known for its chunky width, which is in proportion to its chunky length. In contrast, French bread (pan francese) is longer and thinner.

The bread of Italy draws rave reviews for the softness of its crusty texture. The softness is in the ingredients. For example, olive oil (olio di oliva) tends to be found in many Italian culinary creations in general and in Italian breads in particular. It will make for a softer taste and texture than French bread.

Additionally, the Italian way of making bread ensures that softening ingredients such as olive oil can get their work done. The trick is in what is done to the dough before it is placed in the oven. The crust will be brushed with water. The result will be the production of a chewier, softer, tasty bread.

Italian bread (pan italiano)
Italian bread (pan italiano)


Italian bread can be served in slices with toppings. Popular toppings include fruits and vegetables. One of the most enduring mainstays in terms of toppings is the plum tomato.

The plum tomato can be likened in shape to a plum. It has few seeds. It is acidic and sweet in taste. It may be red or yellow in color.

A plum tomato also can be called a paste tomato in English. The term emphasizes its special role in food preparation. The plum tomato in fact is considered a key ingredient in the world’s best tomato sauces and toppings.


Bridge over Sarno River (fiume Sarno), San Marzano sul Sarno, Campania, southwestern Italy
Bridge over Sarno River (fiume Sarno), San Marzano sul Sarno, Campania, southwestern Italy


The phrase pomodoro di San Marzano, which often is shortened to pomodoro San Marzano, can be offered as one translation of the phrase "plum tomato" into Italian. The masculine noun pomodoro is the Italian word for “tomato.” The preposition di may be translated as “from” or “of.” The masculine phrase San Marzano refers to the municipality of San Marzano sul Sarno (Saint Marcian on the Sarno [River]) in the southwestern Italian region of Campania.


pomodori San Marzano
San Marzano ripe tomatoes
San Marzano ripe tomatoes
pomodori di Roma
Roma plum tomatoes
Roma plum tomatoes


There are other varieties of plum tomato. Another well-known variety is the Roma (pomodoro di Roma, pomodoro Roma). But the San Marzano plum tomato retains a special status within the world of plum tomatoes. Specifically, authentic Neapolitan pizza (pizza napoletana) uses only the plum tomatoes of San Marzano.

But whatever the variety available, the plum tomato can be an exciting, fresh addition to breads as well as to salads. Specifically in terms of breads, it can constitute an ingredient in a topping. In this way, it gives bright color to the brown exterior and white interior of chunky Italian bread. It also offers a delectable, healthy, nutritious taste.


Ingredients for Italian Bread (Bruschetta) with Plum Tomatoes


1 loaf wide, crusty Italian bread, cut diagonally into 12 slices, about 1/2 inch each

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • Note: 2 Tablespoons are to be brushed onto bruschetta; 1 Tablespoon is combined with tomato mixture.

6 plum tomatoes, cored, seeded, and diced

  • Note: I set aside cores and seeds for addition to puréed stews.

1/3 cup chopped red onion

  • Note: Sometimes I substitute 4-6 scallions, finely chopped.

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

4 - 6 basil leaves, chopped

4 - 6 cilantro leaves, chopped

Handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Splash of lime juice

  • Note: Although optional, lime juice lightly imparts a hint of its tanginess to energize the tomato mixture.


olive oil on Italian bread: the basis for bruschetta
olive oil on Italian bread: the basis for bruschetta

Instructions for Italian Bread (Bruschetta) with Plum Tomato


1. Carefully combine tomatoes and onions with vinegar, basil, cilantro, parsley, garlic, and black and white pepper in a bowl. Take care not to crush tomatoes. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the mixture.

  • Note: If including lime juice, splash now according to preference.
  • Set aside at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour to allow for blending of flavors.
  • At the end of this blending, prepare bruschetta.

2. Place rack in center of oven. Preheat the oven to 450 °F.

3. Arrange the sliced bread on a large baking sheet. Lightly toast on one side for a few minutes; then turn over.

  • Brush top sides with olive oil from pre-measured 2 tablespoons in small bowl.
  • Bake until tops are lightly toasted, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Allow to cool for a few minutes.
  • Note: Sampling one of the olive oil-drenched slices is an irresistible, satisfying experience.

4. Place bread slices on a platter.

  • Top each slice with a goodly, yet not overflowing, amount of tomato mixture.


Bruschetta with tomatoes and cheese
Bruschetta with tomatoes and cheese



A favorite variation adds buffalo mozzarella cheese to tomato bruschetta. After slathering the tomato mixture onto bruschetta, slices of puffy buffalo mozzarella are positioned in an aesthetic contrast which, nevertheless, produces a flavorful harmony.

Also delicious is shaved mozzarella or parmigiano-reggiano, which is lightly toasted on the top side of bruschetta. Toasting mingles the flavors of olive oil and cheese into a sensational taste and texture which enhance the tomato topping.

Another variation features kalamata olives, with or without cheese.

Prosciutto, also known as Parma ham, visually and tastefully crowns bruschetta.

Baked eggplant imparts unique coloring and taste to tomato bruschetta. It is truly a culinary treat. Eggplant bruschetta may be converted into a salad with croutons, which is equally tasty.


prosciutto and fig bruschetta, The Raven Cafe, Prescott, central Arizona
prosciutto and fig bruschetta, The Raven Cafe, Prescott, central Arizona



My special thanks to:

  • talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Teresa Giudice for generously sharing culinary treasures and family anecdotes in her beautiful cookbook, Skinny Italian.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


My family's basic recipe for Italian Bread (Bruschetta) with Plum Tomatoes is a variation of a recipe by Teresa Giudice, "Bruschetta Classica," on page 178 of her excellent Italian cook book, Skinny Italian.


colorfully striking simplicity of tomato and basil bruschetta
colorfully striking simplicity of tomato and basil bruschetta

Sources Consulted


Accademia Italiana della Cucina (The Italian Academy of Cuisine). La cucina: the regional cooking of Italy. Translated by Jay Hyams. New York : Rizzoli, 2009.

Castelvetro, Giacomo. The Fruit, Herbs and Vegetables of Italy (1614). Translated and introduced by Gillian Riley. Devon, England: Prospect Books, 2012.

Giudice, Teresa, with Heather Maclean. Skinny Italian. New York: Hyperion, 2010.

Riley, Gillian. The Oxford Companion to Italian Food. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.


bruschetta, ultimate party food, whether for a party of one or for a crowd: delicious finger food, easy to replenish
bruschetta, ultimate party food, whether for a party of one or for a crowd: delicious finger food, easy to replenish
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Skinny Italian: Eat It and Enjoy It - Live La Bella Vita and Look Great, Too!

Italian recipes by Teresa Giudice with Heather Maclean
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DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 08/19/2014, DerdriuMarriner
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


DerdriuMarriner on 05/16/2014

Mira, Me, too, I love olive oil on bread: satisfyingly simple!
Bruschetta is fun and is so accommodating to creativity.

Mira on 05/15/2014

I enjoyed your notes on plum tomatoes (the kind used in Neapolitan pizza, etc.). I like them a lot, too, but never paid attention to the specifics. I will from now on.
I also love olive oil on bread :-) and all your suggestions on bruschetta toppings.

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