When I was in East Hampton, I was obsessing over a box of baby heirloom tomatoes at Round Swamp Farm. They were so unbelievably colorful and mini, with their funky shapes and sizes. But what would I do with them? Put them in a salad? How could I really showcase them in a dish? I left East Hampton without purchasing them, and pretty much forgot about those little guys.
Until yesterday, when I was lucky enough to be in Union Square at 9:30 AM, believing that I would have a chance to go to Trader Joe’s without having to wait in that god-awful line that is second only to Shake Shack. We were having a friend over for dinner and since it was SO UNBELIEVABLY HOT for the past few days, we decided that salad was the way to go. Since plain salad is pretty insubstantial, I decided that panzanella would be filling and interesting while also being a light meal that’s bearable in our very lightly air-conditioned apartment.
Then I saw them: a 16 oz. box of lovely baby heirloom tomatoes. Bingo. These would be sweet and hold their texture, whereas regular tomatoes are soggy, grainy, and, frankly, just not as gorgeous as these little jewels. I think these tomatoes are at Trader Joe’s for a limited time, so GO GET THEM! Even if it’s just to pop in your mouth as a refreshing snack, these tomatoes are so sweet and just so fun. Go now. No, don’t even finish reading this post.
But if you did chose to ignore my suggestion, you won’t be disappointed. The marriage of the bread with tomatoes, onions, arugula, goat cheese, and proscuitto is magnificent. It is also yet another way to use stale bread.
Also, I must say, the accidental salad dressing is a keeper. When I whisked together the white wine vinegar, the oil, garlic, dijion, salt, pepper, and oregano, something was missing. It needed sweetness. I thought sugar was a little boring, so I put a bit of honey in it. It turned out to work perfectly with the tangy goat cheese and raw onions in the salad. I also recommend it as a dressing for a side salad. Next time, I may even go with a little more honey.
This is a great salad to bring to a BBQ when your friend says “can you bring a salad?” Instead of going with the ole’
heavy, fattening, and OBVIOUS potato or macaroni salad, bring this and assemble it when you get to the party. You don’t have to tell her that it’s your leftover bread from last night’s meal.
Panzanella with Goat Cheese and Crispy Proscuitto Serves 3-4
-1 french baguette
-1 lb. baby heirloom tomatoes, halved
-1 red onion, diced
-4 oz. goat cheese
-1/2 bag of arugula
-4 oz. prosciutto, cut into small pieces
-Handful of basil leaves, cut into ribbons
-Extra virgin olive oil
-Salt and pepper
-Accidental Dressing, recipe follows
Slice the baguette in half and let it sit out for half a day. The bread needs to be stale so it doesn’t get mushy with the dressing and juice from the tomatoes.
Heat a grill pan on high and drizzle the stale baguette with olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan and put face down on the grill pan for about 4 minutes. When lightly browned, take the bread off the heat and dice into bite-sized cubes.
Heat about 3 tbsp. of olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat, and add prosciutto. Stir around the pan until all pieces are crisp. Remove prosciutto bits from heat and transfer to drain on a paper towel.
In a large bowl, toss together tomatoes and onions with salt and pepper. Then, add arugula and bread, leaving the bread on top. Drizzle the dressing over the bread, then toss to coat everything evenly. Serve topped with goat cheese, basil, and crispy proscuitto.
**NOTE: Many people just don’t like goat cheese. You can absolutely use mozzarella instead. But, make sure it’s a good quality mozzarella. It’s really important that the mozzarella is flavorful and the right texture. If it’s overly rubbery, it won’t work.
-1 lg. garlic clove, finely minced
-1/4 cup white wine vinegar
-1 cup extra olive oil
-1 tbsp. dijion mustard
-1 tsp. honey
-1 tsp. oregano
-Salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for 1 hour prior to dressing the panzanella.