Why It Works
- Using a combination of different tomatoes adds lots of color and a better balance of tomato flavor.
- Skipping the pre-salting step prevents excess liquid from seeping out of the tomatoes.
- Wine vinegar is a better choice for adding acidity, unless you have true balsamic available.
These classic Italian tomato-topped toasts should be made only when tomatoes are at the peak of their season; the rest of the year, it's better to try my awesome oven-roasted recipe using canned tomatoes. The secret to this version is to use a mix of ripe heirloom varieties, and rub the garlic on the toasts instead of folding it into the tomatoes for a more even and less harsh garlic flavor.
- 1 1/2 pounds (680g) best-quality, in-season fresh tomatoes, preferably a mix of varieties, cored and diced (see note)
- 15 large basil leaves, thinly sliced into a chiffonade
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for the tomatoes and toasts
- Red or white wine vinegar or true balsamic vinegar, to taste (optional; see note)
- 8 medium slices freshly toasted bread
- 3 medium cloves garlic, halved
- Finishing sea salt (such as fleur de sel), kosher salt, or flaky salt (such as Maldon)
In a large bowl, combine tomatoes with basil and enough olive oil to generously coat. If using wine vinegar, add a splash. Toss gently, taste, and add more wine vinegar if desired.
Rub garlic cloves on top surface of each toast; rub only as much as you want. (More will make the toasts more garlicky, while a lighter hand will deliver a more mild flavor.) Drizzle olive oil on each toast and season with salt.
Spoon tomatoes onto each toast, including any liquid that has accumulated. Season generously with salt. If using true balsamic vinegar, drizzle it sparingly on top. Serve right away.
Use whichever ripe varieties you can find, including cherry tomatoes (cut them into wedges instead of dice). If you have true balsamic vinegar, drizzle it on top of the toasts; if not, it's better to add a splash of wine vinegar to the tomatoes, since it has better flavor than faux balsamic.