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Author Notes: 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
- 6 Heirloom tomatoes- medium size, whatever kind you have on hand
- 3 Handfulls of sweet smaller tomatoes ( I used a small yellow pear shaped variety)
- 1/4 Red Onion- Finely Diced
- 1/2 English Cucumber
- 3 pinches Maldon Seat Salt or similar
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- Fresh Ground Black Pepper
- 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/8 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 7 Fresh Medium Sized Basil Leaves + a few small ones for garnish
- 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.
- 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 Garlic Cloves- smashed with skins still on
- Course Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
- 10 Slices of Ciabatta bread or any rustic/crusty loaf of bread you have available.
- 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.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe Using Heirloom Tomatoes