For years we grew tomatoes in our small yard. What a thrill it was to go out every day and pick whatever we needed for our supper. Some days it was actually a bit overwhelming as there might be thirty or forty tomatoes covering the kitchen counter. I spent hours making sauce with our lovely San Marzanos . Bruschetta was on the menu most evenings. Salsa, tomato jam, platters of sliced tomatoes and mozzarella, tomato tarts-we were in tomato heaven!
Last year we planted more tomatoes than in previous years. We patiently waited for our tomatoes to ripen, but unfortunately the squirrels in our neighborhood got the better part of our crop. At first they helped themselves to whatever was ripe, but in time they grabbed even the green tomatoes.
This year we decided to forego planting and decided to rely on the locally grown tomatoes from the farmers market. The selection is amazing and we no longer cringe every time we spy a squirrel in our yard.
One of my favorite summer salads is panzanella-an Italian tomato and bread salad. The key here is to use a good crusty bread in addition to vine ripened tomatoes. I love this particular recipe as it incorporates other vegetables. Bell peppers, celery cucumber and onion add a nice crunchy counterpoint to the softer tomatoes and bread.
2 thick cut slices of Italian country bread
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 pound ripe tomatoes, cut into large chunks
1/2 cup red bell pepper. sliced
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, sliced
1/2 cup peeled and thinly sliced carrot
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 English cucumber, sliced
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bread slices on baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes. Cut bread into 1″ cubes. Place in a medium bowl. Add warm water to cover bread and let stand for one minute. Squeeze bread gently to release excess water and then transfer bread to a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons vinegar and the onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour.
Mix tomatoes, bell pepper, carrots, celery, cucumber and basil into bread mixture. Whisk remaining 1/3 cup olive oil and 3 tablespoons vinegar in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and pour dressing over salad and toss to blend. Serves: 4
Panini Girl In Lucca May 2018 (April 28-May 5) firstname.lastname@example.org