This is quite a simple recipe that capitalizes on the amazing quality of summer tomatoes. I use heirlooms from my Mom's garden and also a sprinkling of her small yellow sweet tomatoes. The quality of the tomatoes is key to this recipe's success. Also I make croutons for the salad, which I think really allows for the flavors to soak into the bread but also gives texture and crunch. This salad is quite simple and free-form which captures the essence of its rustic Tuscan name. You can change it up by using red wine vinegar according to your preference. I prefer the sweet acidity of the balsamic vinegar. Don't skimp on any of your ingredients. Use the highest quality you have, it is what makes this salad great! —kcpoindexter
Heirloom tomatoes- medium size, whatever kind you have on hand
Handfulls of sweet smaller tomatoes ( I used a small yellow pear shaped variety)
Red Onion- Finely Diced
Maldon Seat Salt or similar
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Medium Sized Basil Leaves + a few small ones for garnish
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Garlic Cloves- smashed with skins still on
Course Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
Slices of Ciabatta bread or any rustic/crusty loaf of bread you have available.
Cut the tomatoes, onion, and cucumber into bite size pieces. I like mine to be a little chunkier than bite size but it is all about mouth-feel. I do recommend keeping the onion slices smaller or it can be a bit overwhelming. For the cherry tomatoes, just slice them in half.
Put all above ingredients in a bowl and season with Maldon Sea Salt, kosher salt, and pepper to taste.
Pour in the vinegar and olive oil. Tear with your hands, the basil leaves, bruising the leaves as you go. Mix everything together and let marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes. I let mine marinate for 1 hour while I prepared the rest of my dinner. Give it a stir every 10 minutes or so.
Once the salad has marinated you just need to make the croutons, portion them into individual bowls, and then spoon the salad over top. I also like to spoon out some of the balsamic/olive oil prior to serving as I prefer my salad with a little less liquid. Sprinkle some of the baby basil leaves on top to finish and a little Maldon Sea Salt to taste.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Put in the smashed garlic cloves and press down to release their juices.
Tear the slices of Ciabatta Bread into hearty bite-sized pieces.
Once the pan starts to get hot and emits a little hint of smoke, add the bread. Toss to coat in the oil. Toss/stir frequently to avoid any burning.
Let cook for approx. 3 minutes. Remove the garlic, add the rest of the oil, and continue to stir. Season with a generous pinch of salt and some fresh ground black pepper. Let cook until the bread browns and becomes crunchy under the weight of your spoon, approximately 5 minutes. If your pan starts to dry out, add a little more oil.
Remove from the heat and portion into your salad bowls. Check for seasoning and adjust if needed.