Now, not just any tomato will stop me in my tracks. Plain ole' beefsteaks or romas don't do a whole lot for me. I am sure it is possible to grow a delicious roma tomato, but I can't shake the many experiences I have had trying to make my grocery store-bought tomato taste like something. Anything. So when it comes to picking them out locally, I stick to one rule: the more colorful (and in some cases, ugly) the better.
But today's recipe makes use of the most beautiful varieties I have found lately - tiny, adorable, perfect little globes in all shades. Growers have been bringing red/green, purple, bright orange, yellow and green striped. They have delightful names like chocolate cherry, orange blossom, and banana gold, and they also happen to be intensely sweet. They pop in your mouth and taste like a burst of summer. How can I pass them by?
I have been bringing these beautiful little treats home by the bagful, and figuring out the best way to enjoy them (other than eating them right from said bag). Because they are so incredibly delicious on their own, I like to do put them in dishes that allow their flavor to shine.
I have also been coming home with a lot of bread from Lorraine's, so my go-to dish these days is Panzanella - Tuscan bread salad. I cannot get enough of this dish. I have made it 4 times in the last week, and yet my mouth waters just thinking about making it again. The juxtaposition of the super sweet tomatoes with the salty olives, rich olive oil, and acid from the vinegar is a pretty amazing combo. Throw some fresh basil on that and you got a slice of summer heaven.
My recipe is not traditional, but I make it how I like it. It is usually made with larger tomatoes, but the baby heirlooms work perfectly here, preventing the soupyness you might get from lots of seeds. I also like to toast my bread so it doesn't get soggy. The measurements are rough because this is one of those "throw some stuff in a bowl and eat it" dishes. Play with it and see what you like. Feel free to also add garlic, cucumbers, or even feta to yours. Enjoy, then make it again, and enjoy again.
BABY HEIRLOOM PANZANELLAIngredients
1/2 loaf rustic white or whole wheat bread, cut into bite-sizes pieces
2 pints local baby tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup green olives
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
large handful fresh basil (about 15-20 leaves), roughly chopped
small handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1. Preheat oven to 400. Toss bread pieces with 1 tablespoon olive oil and toast until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
2. In large bowl, carefully combine tomatoes, olives, onion, olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Cool toasted bread and add to tomato mixture. Add basil and parsley, stirring to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Throw in a splash of olive oil or vinegar if needed as bread soaks up dressing. Devour.