Tomato season has reached its peak and this bruschetta fiend cannot squeal obnoxiously enough.
I love how many varieties of tomatoes are accessible these days. I do not know if I ever saw anything but a red tomato when I was younger, but now produce bins are teeming with a kaleidoscope of fruits, looking like an edible collection of autumn leaves. It’s heavenly.
Everything in my garden died a rapid but horrible death due to our “record-breaking” (I never found that term revolting until this summer) temperatures; everything but my herbs. My basil is sitting tall and pretty like some sort of suntanned model who didn’t notice it was basically raining lava outside.
Have I ever mentioned that I don’t really love hot weather?
So, all of my tomatoes are coming from grocery stores and farmer’s markets at the moment, but that does not make me any less enthusiastic about those bright little spheres of summer.
This salad was born out of a desire to eat more bruschetta, but in a fresh mode that seemed a little more like a full meal.
Okay, to most this would be considered a side dish, but, paired with an evening on the patio and a glass of basil lemonade, to me this is the perfect dinner.
If you have a plethora of tomatoes and a baguette that is just a little past its prime, this dish is your best friend.
While it does have several components and should be served soon after it has been tossed together, I find it easier and more crowd-friendly than classic bruschetta, as it does not need to be made one serving at a time.
I recently catered a fairly large dinner party, and amongst all of my innovative, neo-classic offerings, was bruschetta - plain and simple. Though all dishes had their fans, the gushes and swoons mainly focused on the dish which was the least inspired and the most simplistic; the bruschetta.
I was reminded once again that we can rarely improve upon simple pleasures - a piece of toast and a slice of one’s garden needs no further adornment.
That might sound defeatist, but I think we should celebrate the fact that this convoluted world still smiles at something straightforward.
So, here it all is in salad form. I love it and I think you will too.
Also, isn’t it great that we can call bread salad?
Happy Monday! I like you people.
BRUSCHETTA PANZANELLA SALAD
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided use
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided use
3 cups baguette cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups fresh heirloom tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced into thin strips
1/3 cup pecorino romano
Prepare the dressing by adding garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup olive oil to the work bowl of your food processor and pulse on high speed until smooth and emulsified. Set aside for now.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set your oven to the broiler setting.
Add baguette cubes to a large bowl, drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and garlic powder. Toss until the bread is well coated, then spread the cubes over the surface of the baking sheet. Place the pan under the broiler for 5-7 minutes, tossing halfway through; until the cubes are golden and well toasted.
Transfer the toasted bread to a serving bowl and toss in tomatoes and basil. Drizzle the mixture with the prepared dressing and mix until all components are well coated. Sprinkle with pecorino romano.
Allow the salad to sit for 5-10 minutes; until the bread has softened just slightly.
Cook’s Note: Unfortunately, this salad has a very small window of excellence, so be sure to serve it within twenty minutes of preparation. The dressing, however, can be made several hours in advance and refrigerated until you are ready to use it.