Fresh garden tomatoes and good bread for an unabashed bread and tomato lover. I am in heaven.
We’re usually so busy on summer weekends with our mobile pizza business that we don’t get a chance to visit the farmers markets. After so many years of taking bread to markets every Saturday from May through October, it’s hard to give up on the bounty at my fingertips. Vendors were usually happy to trade a few tomatoes or onions for a baguette that didn’t sell. But last Saturday we didn’t have a scheduled event so we went early to snag a few heirloom tomatoes from my market friends. Trever and Susan at Gilkerson Gardens grow heirlooms in their greenhouses and usually have them from February into November. Because they’re grown in the ground they have the same flavor as any grown in your garden, so these are what we use to make our Margherita pizzas taste like summer early in the season. We have a preference for the taste and color of heirlooms — the gold ones with red streaks, the huge pink Brandywines, dark Cherokees, green Zebras. It’s a feast for the eyes as well as the belly.
Pick up a cucumber, sweet or red onion, and some fresh basil while you’re at the market. If your market is lucky enough to have a good baker get a loaf of country bread or a baguette, white or wheat, but not grainy because it will fall apart too much when it soaks up the juices. Some good olive oil and red wine vinegar, a little garlic salt and you’re ready to put it all together. A generous 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley is good if you have it but not necessary. It’s best to mix and let this sit for a few hours to let the flavors blend as the bread soaks up all that tomato juice and oil/vinegar.
– Joan, 13 July 2018
Bread and tomato salad
- 6 ripe tomatoes, preferably heirloom varieties
- 1 sweet or red onion, sliced very thin, or 3-5 green onions (use green tops also)
- 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 loaf of country bread, cut into 1/2-3/4″ pieces for croutons
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2-1 teaspoon garlic salt, to taste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- fresh basil leaves
- crumbled feta cheese for topping
Make the croutons:
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cut the bread into 1/2-3/4″ cubes (you can leave the crust on). Mix the melted butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil and pour over the cubed bread, tossing well to coat the bread. Spread out in a single layer on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with some garlic salt, and bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool completely.
Prepare the salad:
Cut the tomatoes into chunks and toss with the sliced onion, cucumber, basil (and parsley, if using) and croutons. Pour the 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar over it all and toss well. Cover and let it sit for a few hours, or refrigerate overnight before serving. A little crumbled feta cheese is a perfect slightly salty complement for topping.