Growing up, I hated tomatoes. They were bland, pale pink and did nothing to liven up a salad. My distaste was so well known that on a visit to my grandparent’s home in Bronxville, New York, my Pop Pop bribed me to take one bite, just one bite, in exchange for a Dove bar. Fair trade, I’d say.
Now that I’m all grown up, tomatoes are the first thing I look for when I enter a market. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy tomatoes — the sun stays out later, the weather is mild and warm. And there’s nothing better than enjoying dinner al fresco with friends with fresh salads and tangy grilled meats.
This tomato salad is a fun take on panzanella, something I’ve always wanted to try but hadn’t gotten around to until now. A panzanella salad is what my Great Aunt Betty would call an “everything but the kitchen sink” salad. You’re meant to use stale bread, for one thing. For another, you can really toss in whatever vegetables you have that work with the tomatoes. Add a bit of goat cheese if you’ve got it; feta would be nice, too.
But no matter what you toss in, it’s guaranteed to be so delicious, you shouldn’t have any trouble convincing your guests to have a second helping. And if you do? Be sure to keep a stock of Dove bars on hand.
4 slices French baguette or gluten-free white sandwich bread such as Udi’s
4 cups cherry, grape or heirloom tomatoes, halved or chopped into bite-size pieces
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
One bunch basil, leaves torn or cut into ribbons
- Toast or grill the bread slices.
- While the bread cools, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and sugar.
- Once the bread cools, tear into bite-sized pieces.
- Toss together the bread, dressing and tomatoes in a large bowl and season with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle the basil over the top of the salad and serve.
Adapted from a recipe by Cooking Light.