TOMATO BASIL PANZANELLA
Nothing brings a smile to my face and a glimmer to my eye quite like summertime heirloom tomatoes. Last Saturday I spied the first of the crop on the tables of JR Organics and Suzie's Farm and already I have a list the length of my arm for what I'm going to do with them. But for starters, let's keep things simple and make a panzanella, aka bread, salad.
Grab a fist sized heirloom tomato from JR Organics and a pint of yellow grape tomatoes too, for color. While you're there, grab a bunch of basil as well. From Suzie's you'll want a red onion, a head of garlic and a handful of the gherkin cucumbers (they look like mini watermelons!). Now grab a loaf of rustic bread from Belen, Charlie's Best or Bread & Cie and you're all set to start.
Take six slices of rustic bread and cut into 1-inch cubes. Drizzle lightly with a bit of olive oil and toast in an oven set to 350F for about 10 minutes or until just turning golden brown. In a bowl mix equal parts olive oil and red wine vinegar, about a 1/4 cup each, and season with a bit of mustard, salt and pepper and a minced clove of garlic or two. Thinly slice half the red onion and let it marinate in the dressing to mellow and slightly pickle the onion. Cut your grape tomatoes and gherkin cucumbers in half and your larger tomato into bite sized chunks. Once the bread has toasted and cooled, toss it with the tomatoes and cucumbers, onions and dressing. Tear off a handful of basil leaves and toss them in the salad too. Want a little cheese with that? Crumble some goat milk feta from Nicolau Farms on top or add some tiny balls of mozzarella from Taste Cheese. Now do a little dance for summer!