Let’s talk about simple pleasures. [Tomato and Bread Salad]

Let’s talk about simple pleasures. I first made this salad six summers ago. I remembering buying the tomatoes at a hilltop farmer’s market somewhere between Ashcroft and Clinton, a 10 hour drive north of my home in Vancouver. The temperature was approaching 100 degrees and we stood underneath the roof sprayers before entering, lingering in the cool mist. I hadn’t expected to find tomatoes that far north, but I also hadn’t expected semi-arid desert weather either and clearly these ripe and beautiful tomatoes had been nurtured under a steady diet of heat and sun.

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Arriving home hungry after that long hot road trip, I didn’t have much on hand to make a meal from. But I had those heirloom tomatoes and I knew they were going to be good. Even through the brown paper bag they smelled like warm earth. I picked out the biggest tomato and cut it into four thick slices with my bread knife. Standing at the counter, I ate the slices with a fork, juice pooling on the plate. There was no need for salt or pepper, for anything at all but that tomato, but I knew right then and there that it would be the perfect foundation for a simple salad, and this recipe was born.

This year, I’ve been waiting all summer to see tomatoes of this calibre. Last Saturday, I found them my local farmer’s market, perfectly imperfect, the antithesis of the round and uniformly red ones you find at the grocery store year round. There are red ones, oh yes, but there are also pink ones and deep dark purple ones and orange and yellow ones, too. Some are round, some oblong and smooth-skinned, and some are designed more like avant garde chaise lounges: bulbous and squashy, with skin like shiny tightly-pleated pleather.

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These are the kind of tomatoes that we are looking for for this recipe. Juicy, substantial, imperfect.

I should make clear that there are a variety of different tomatoes that are considered to be heirloom (or in the UK, heritage), including Brandywine, Beefsteak, and Black Cherry among others.

Also, please note that even though this is called Tomato and Bread Salad, you can do without the bread. If it’s not obvious already, this is a tomato-forward experience, and the gluten-free should not avoid this recipe thinking that the bread-less version will be a sub par experience. It is simply a different, equally delicious one.

Also, if you are a dairy and or/meat eater, you can vary the recipe by adding fresh mozzarella, thickly grated parmesan, and thinly-sliced or crumbled bacon. So whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, carnivore, or reducetarian, not not’s got you covered with this one.

Enjoy soon! Tomato season is fleeting!

Here’s a short video about making the salad. Called a “A poignant love story?” by Vanity Fair, Olive Oil won best supporting actress for her understated — some might say, almost static, portrayal — in this short film about a tomato at the peak of its flavour.

Ingredients

Note: I like this ratio of tomatoes to bread but play around with it to your suiting. A lot of traditional Tomato and Bread Salad recipes call for more bread, and more complex dressing. This salad is so simple, it’s all about using the best ingredients you can get your hands on.

  • 4 cups chopped tomatoes
  • Optional: 2 cups crusty white bread, cut into about 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
  • 3+ tablespoons of olive oil. {This calls for the best olive oil you have.}
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • salt to taste
  • Optional:
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan or 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella or bocconcini
    • 4 slices of cooked and sliced/crumbled bacon

Instructions

  1. If you are using the bread, place the cubes on a baking sheet and toast them for 12-15 minutes at 350F.
  2. If you are using the bacon, you can cook it in the oven at the same time. Drain and crumble or slice it before adding to the salad.
  3. Combine the garlic, olive oil, and salt.
  4. Combine the chopped tomatoes, the bread {if using} and the basil. Pour the garlic and olive oil mixture over top and then stir everything together gently.
  5. If you’re adding in the cheese and/or bacon, add them now.
  6. Taste and add extra olive oil or salt if needed.
  7. Enjoy this standing at the kitchen counter.

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I love to hear from you!

I’m always so excited to get your comments! Scroll on down below and write me a little note. And keep up to date by following not not on any or all of your favourite social media sites: Facebook, Insta, or Pinterest.

PS – I’m working on a Lemon Basil Caesar Salad, with variations that work for everyone from vegans to omnivores. Watch for it!

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5 comments

  1. Pingback: Carrot Cake with Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing | not not nutritious

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