It’s tomato season! Maybe some of you out there have tomatoes in your garden that are producing by the bushel right now. If so, I’m jealous of you–I’ve never been that great at growing them.
What I am great at is going to the Farmer’s Market, which I did last weekend, and came home with a bunch of beautiful, heirloom tomatoes.
If you’re wondering what makes a tomato “heirloom,” they are planted from older seeds, heritage seeds that have been preserved. Overall, what you’ll notice is that they are much more colourful, and you’ll see a wide variety of shapes and sizes, unlike the more uniform colour and product you’ll get from your grocery store.
I’d been craving something fresh these days after being on the road the last couple of weeks and eating nothing but restaurant food. But I wasn’t sure what. A Gazpacho, maybe? All I knew was that it needed to be something I didn’t have to spend time slaving over a hot stove. I’m in the middle of writing my chapter on baking in the cookbook, and my kitchen is 400 degrees all the freaking time.
So, I settled on a Panzanella Salad. An Italian salad, this is meant to use up stale bread. I had an old baguette in the freezer I’d been saving for this purpose, and the rest of my ingredients were easily sourced at the Sunday Kits Farmer’s Market.
It’s super easy. Just chop everything and throw it in a bowl. This recipe is completely vegan if you leave off the cheese, or use a vegan Parmesan alternative.
I love that it makes use of what’s in season right now, and no oven, to boot!
- 4 largeish ripe tomatoes
- 1 large cucumber
- onions; I used 3 green onions because I like the milder flavor, but you could use half a red onion
- salt and pepper
- 12 fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 french baguette
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Cut your baguette into bite-sized (about 1″ square) pieces. If your bread is fresh, lay it on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast it in the oven at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes.
- Cut the tomatoes into a 1″ dice.
- Slice the cucumber length-wise all the way down and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Now slice each half into half-moon slices, about 1/3″ thick.
- Chop the onion finely, and chiffonade the basil.
- Now, toss everything together in a large bowl, keeping aside a little of the basil for garnish.
- In a mason jar, add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, along with salt and pepper to taste. Shake well to combine, then pour over the salad and toss well.
- Pour the salad out onto a platter, and garnish with the remaining basil and curls of Parmesan cheese.