Tomato panzanella

panzanella2In case you weren’t aware–and I know that no one was aware– this week was supposed to be a tomato extravaganza. Extravaganza is a bit of an overstatement since I only post twice a week, but I wanted to share a couple of great recipes that show off one of my two favorite parts of the summer bounty. (Tomatoes v. berries is a tough decision, and one I surely cannot make.)

Shakshuka is a lesser known way to take advantage of tomatoes, plus it’s new and different, so it was nice to kick off the festivities with it. To close, though, I’m going to share my absolute favorite way to eat tomatoes: tomato panzanella. It’s cool, quick and easy, and the flavors go together so well in such a fantastic way that you’ll want to fix it at least once a week.

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I often take this for lunch. I go ahead and combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and red onion in a small Tupperware container at home. I bring my tomato, a handful of the toasted croutons (or a hunk of bread if I’m being lazy), the container of ricotta and a small sprig of basil in my lunchbox, and then I chop of the tomatoes and combine everything when it’s lunchtime. It takes only a few minutes of preparation and assembly, and it’s much better than buying lunch or the spinach salad that I often wish I didn’t have.

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Although tomato panzanella is the perfect summertime and weeknight dinner, it doesn’t work for leftovers. I’m sharing a recipe for only one serving because I generally only make enough for one or two, but you can go over to Martha Stewart to see the recipe as meant for four servings.

Feel free to use any sort of tomato you like. I’m sure most people will love this with their favorite heirloom, but I actually prefer the mass produced but homegrown humble Better Boy tomato (or similar bright red varieties) more than heirlooms. I’m not sure why since most people fawn over heirlooms, and I often wish that I could like heirlooms more, but I don’t so I stick to the hybrid versions.

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Tomato panzanella
adapted from Martha Stewart
one serving
five-stars

Note: It might be advantageous to toast extra pieces of bread for additional servings. I will toast a whole loaf, planning to eat panzanella for several days in a row (or making it for more than just one serving).

 

1 cup (or about ¼ of a medium-sized loaf) French bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
 ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon red onion, sliced thinly and roughly chopped
1 large (about 350g) tomato, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons (about 5-8 leaves) basil, torn
⅓ cup whole milk ricotta

1. Spread torn pieces of bread evenly on a sheet pan. Cook in an oven at 250F for about 15 minutes. They’ll get crispy but hardly start to brown. Let cool, which takes about 5 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Add onion, tomatoes and toasted bread. Toss well to combine, making sure that each piece of bread soaks up some of the vinegar and oil mixture.

3. Toss in torn basil, top with the scoop of ricotta, and enjoy immediately.

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