There’s nothing more delicious than a fresh garden tomato in the peak of summer. Why bury the flavors behind spices or sauce? Let the bright, juicy tang spring through naturally. Other than simply slicing those giant heirlooms on a plate and eating them raw, this is the best way to eat fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes.
This salad is inspired by the Italian “panzanella,” or tomato bread salad. It’s so simple! No cooking required. Yet, it’s elegant enough to serve to guests. After all, it’s utter indulgence to serve a brimming bowl filled with giant chunks of the ripest tomatoes. Use several varieties of tomatoes to add layers of flavors and colors to this perfect summer dish.
Tomato Bread Salad (Panzanella) Recipe
2 large heirloom tomatoes (choose 2 different varieties for added color, flavor)
½ cup cherry tomatoes (choose 2 or more varieties for added color, flavor)
½ Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 slices artisan bread, cut into cubes (bread that’s slightly hard and a few days old is best to stand up to the very juicy tomatoes)
½ cup fresh mozzarella, diced into cubes
1 Tablespoon fresh basil leaves, torn
1 heaping teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Garden-grown or Farmers’ Market ingredients: tomatoes, basil, olive oil, bread, balsamic
California-sourced ingredients: mozzarella
Supermarket ingredients: black pepper
Cut the heirloom tomatoes into large chunks and place them in a large serving bowl. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add to the bowl. Drizzle the tomatoes with the olive oil and balsamic. Your aim is to merely enhance the flavors of the tomatoes, not cover them up; thus, this recipe doesn’t call for a lot of dressing.
Add the bread and mozzarella to the top of the serving dish. Do not stir. Sprinkle with basil leaves and black pepper. Serve. As you spoon out each serving, the bread and cheese will end up falling into the tomatoes and the bread will become soaked with the tomato juice. If not eaten right away, the bread becomes soggy. Thus, this recipe is meant to be eaten fresh and should be made only in the quantity that will be eaten immediately. It doesn’t keep—yet it tastes amazing when fresh!
Serves: 2 big portions
More Panzanella Recipes:
What’s Gaby Cooking adds avocado and bell peppers to her recipe.
Misadventures in Cooking adds white beans and shrimp.
Eating Well adds grilled salmon.