Our recipe this week comes by special request from a guest who attended one of our recent Farm events. We have been busting out our new wood fire grill more and more lately and recently we had a “Pizza and Pollinators” event where guests could learn about the many pollinators that play an important role in our urban garden followed by pizza topped with an array of garden and locally grown vegetables hot off the grill. In addition to slinging pizzas our kitchen team put together a panzanella or bread salad that featured locally grown heirloom tomatoes paired with our homemade focaccia bread. The salad was a big hit with one guest even mopping up the crumbs in the bottom of the bowl! I love to make this salad this time of year when tomatoes are at their best because what makes it so good is using the highest quality ingredients possible. There really is no hiding in this salad because of its simplicity. If one of the ingredients is not so good it will stick out like a sore thumb. The other key to this salad is that we use our very own homemade focaccia that features fresh rosemary from our garden. Bread is the other star in this humble dish and the addition of our homemade bread really takes it to another level. I believe I’ve posted our focaccia recipe in a previous newsletter so I’d encourage you to pull that out and put it to good use! If you are pressed for time then I’d encourage you to use the best bread you can find from one of San Diego’s wonderful local bakeries (this is where I will plug Wayfarer Bread and Pastry in Bird Rock!).
Don’t get too tied up on measurements for this recipe. I actually don’t believe I’ve ever measured anything for this. Tasting as you go is everything! Your bread may soak up ingredients differently than mine or you may be using a different vinegar, olive oil, or even salt. The key is to be able to taste each ingredient that you are adding. You should get the pepperiness from the olive oil, the tang of the vinegar, the sweet and savory from the tomato, the freshness of the herbs, and the bite of the onion. The bread should act as a sponge to soak up all the delicious juice given off by those ripe tomatoes. Its just a magical, perfect summer combination when done right!
Serves about 3-4
All amounts are rough estimates, taste as you go!
1 lb Ripe, Summer Tomatoes cut in large, “rustic” chunks
2-3 Cups Good quality bread, cut in 1 inch cubes (I use our homemade focaccia)
½ Small Red Onion, julienned
¼ Cup Chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, oregano, marjoram, basil, rosemary, etc…
3 or 4 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar (I use our Nasturtium infused vinegar when I have)
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
Salt to taste
1) Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss the bread cubes in just enough Extra Virgin Olive oil to lightly coat and lay out on a baking sheet. Place in the oven approximately 8-10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.
2) Place the toasted bread, tomatoes, red onion, and herbs in a large bowl. Drizzle over the vinegar, olive oil, red pepper flakes and a couple pinches of salt.
3) Toss thoroughly and allow to sit a few minutes. The salt and vinegar will begin to release juices from the tomatoes.
4) Toss again and taste for seasoning. Add a splash more vinegar, olive oil, or salt as needed. Taste, taste, taste!