Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad

This recipe from Michael Chiarello at Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced

1/4 cup minced red onion

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves

1 teaspoon sea salt, preferably gray salt

Several grinds black pepper

Panzanella Croutons, recipe follows

2 cups trimmed arugula

Wedge Parmesan, for shaving

Directions

Drain the tomatoes in a sieve to remove excess liquid while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.  ( Beahgirl notes:  most reviewers mentioned they did not drain or seed the tomatoes, and the salad was delicious).

In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, basil, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Add the croutons and toss well.

Divide tomato mixture among 4 plates. Top each serving with an equal amount of the arugula. With a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan over the salad. Serve immediately.

Michael’s Notes: I’ve used basil and tarragon here, but you can use any herbs you like. Parsley and marjoram come to mind as good alternatives.

Panzanella Croutons:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 cups crustless cubed day-old bread (1/2-inch cubes)  ( Beachgirl note:  one reviewer mention they used ciabiatta bread)
Sea salt, preferably gray salt, and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and preheat a cookie sheet in it.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook until it foams. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the bread cubes and toss to coat with the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the bread to a baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with the cheese and toss again while warm to melt the cheese.

Bake, stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 8 or 9 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.
Michael’s Notes: I use a serrated knife to remove the crust from day-old bread, then switch to a chef’s knife to cut the cubes because it doesn’t tear the bread. Also note that I recommend grating the Parmesan finely so that it will stick to the bread better.  ( Beachgirl note:  a lot of reviewers mentioned they did not trim the crust from the bread – less labor and still awesome!)

I added some balsamic vinegar when I made this – a nice addition in my opinion.  I like the white balsami – a little sweeter.

Yield: about 6 cups

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