Inspiration for this salad comes from David Tanis’ Tomato Salad on a Roll in the NYTimes by way of Luisa Weiss' blog The Wednesday Chef. I’ve made countless versions of egg salad, chicken salad, and tuna salad – but why had I never thought to make tomato salad and pile it on a crusty bread? David Tanis flavors his tomato salad with capers, garlic, and anchovies. In my version, I take ingredients from my favorite panzanella – crunchy cucumber, black olives, and creamy mozzarella -- and finely dice them so the cherry tomatoes remain center stage. If you’re like me, you may find yourself sneaking bites of the salad before it ever hits your bread, so be wise and make extra. —EmilyC
1 heaping cup of cherry tomatoes (mixed varieties and colors if possible)
salt + freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely diced cucumber
2 tablespoons finely diced pitted black olives (I like niçoise or kalamata)
Cut the cherry tomatoes in halves or quarters, depending on size, and put them into a salad bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Finely dice your cucumber, olives, and mozzarella and add them to the cherry tomatoes. Cut a chiffonade of basil by stacking the leaves, rolling them into a cigar shape, and cutting them crosswise into very thin ribbons. Add the basil to the salad. Gently fold in the extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Split the rolls or baguette lengthwise. Tear out a little of the bread from the bottom half of each roll or baguette, then spoon tomato salad and its juices onto the bottom half. Replace top half and press lightly. Note: I split the baguette like a book for the picture above, but this makes for a messier eating experience.
(Note: David Tanis suggests covering the sandwiches at this point with a clean kitchen towel and waiting an hour or so to let the flavors mingle and the bread fully soak up the vinaigrette. I didn't have the patience to wait it out – and the sandwich didn't suffer in any way – but by all means follow this step if you'd like.)