In this recipe for panzanella salad also lies a recipe for homemade croutons, which you can either make in advance and store for a future salad, or blitz in the food processor and turn into bread crumbs. I love this salad on a hot summer’s day with freshly picked tomatoes. It is a great way to use up stale bread so don’t throw that old baguette out! I sometimes refer to this as tomato bread salad, it’s something I made often when working in professional kitchens. There is a secret ingredient that really brings it to another level: tomato water. Get the recipe for that while you’re here, you won’t be sorry.
Freshly picked tomatoes off the vine are the best way to have this salad. Or find a farm stand or market. Whatever you do, try to avoid those sad tomatoes at the grocery store that have been gased in the refrigerated truck to turn pinkish red on the way to the store. It will be a depressing salad in that case and I don’t want you eating depressing salads.
And do try to make the tomato water for this recipe, it sounds simple but you won’t believe the flavor. Enjoy my friends!
- 1 stale baguette or loaf of bread
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for sprinkling
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 3 large heirloom tomatoes (the more colorful the better!)
- 1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes
- 2 cups Tomato Water or the juice of 4 large tomatoes
- 1 cup arugula
- ½ cup small, fresh basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Cut the baguette lengthwise and drizzle all sides with olive oil. Then rub the baguette on all sides with the garlic.
- Cut the baguette into 1-inch cubes and place them into a 9 × 13-inch baking dish. Add the salt and pepper and toss. Bake for 20 minutes until lightly golden then remove from the oven to let cool.
- Slice the heirloom and cherry tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. In 4 shallow bowls, combine ½ cup of tomato water with the tomatoes, arugula, and basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and add a few croutons just before serving.