And that brings us back to something that I do know something about – tomatoes. Eating them, cooking with them. What to do when you have 20 pounds of them. Besides the sauce, and the toss-everything-in-a-pan-pastas, and the pickled cherry tomatoes, I also made this beautiful panzanella, a salad of toasted bread and fresh tomatoes, tossed with salt, olive oil, basil, and fresh mozzarella. It’s both filling and fresh, a burst of summertime flavor in every bite. I read in Nigel Slater’s Tender that his trick for the perfect panzanella is to toast the bread first, and so that’s what I did, to excellent effect. It really couldn’t be a much simpler meal, and if you use tomatoes in a variety of sizes and colors, it’s a stunning dish as well.
Heirloom Tomato Panzanella with Mozzarella and Basil
- 6 thick (1-inch) slices sourdough bread, cut into bite-sized cubes
- 6 TBS olive oil, divided
- coarse sea salt
- 2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 3/4 c. small fresh mozzarella balls (cillegine)
- 15 leaves fresh basil, torn into pieces by hand
- Toss 4 TBS of the olive oil with the bread cubes in a large bowl, then transfer to a wide frying pan or dutch oven, sprinkle with sea salt, and toast bread cubes over medium heat, stirring frequently, until bread is golden brown on much of it’s surface, about 5-10 minutes.
- Toss the warm bread cubes with the tomatoes, mozzarella balls, and torn basil. Drizzle with the remaining 2 TBS of olive oil and season to taste with sea salt. Serve at room temperature.