HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD is an easy and very colorful side dish served with fresh basil and crispy, cheesy croutons for a fresh summer bite you’ll love!
It’s time to think about warm weather cooking (yay) and I love a colorful tomato salad. It’s my go-to side dish for summer cooking and grilling because it’s so simple to put together. I originally wrote this recipe using regular tomatoes until I was shopping for the ingredients and the spotted lovely selection of heirloom tomatoes. I was drawn by the colorful display of both large and small and I never pass up a chance to buy heirlooms. Of course, if heirlooms are not in season or you cannot find them, any ripe tomatoes you like can be used.
Inspired by the Italian Panzanella salad, which is a bread and tomato salad, but the bread gets soggy. I wanted crispy, cheesy bread croutons because there’s nothing better than a crunchy cheesy crouton and I think most of us love our salads with a little crunch. This salad is the perfect side dish for just about any meat or fish dish, but for this particular meal I made, I served it with a ricotta frittata for a delicious light meal.
I want to give you a little heads up when making the croutons. I did have to restrain myself from eating a lot of the them when they came of the oven, but I did enjoy 1 or 2. This may happen to you.
For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Small pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil
For the croutons:
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil finely chopped
- 1 loaf ciabatta bread cut into 20-1/4 inch cubes
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
For the salad:
- 2 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes cut into bite-size wedges (half if using small tomatoes)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil chopped
- For the dressing:
- To a mixing bowl add the red wine vinegar, mustard, shallot, honey, salt & pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until mixed well. Set aside.
- For the croutons:
- Preheat broiler.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
- Add the parmesan and basil to a small bowl and mix well.
- Spread the croutons onto the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, mix to coat well.
- Broil for 4-5 minutes until golden, turn them over and brown on the other side, keep your eye on them.
- Remove the croutons from the oven and sprinkle the tops generously with the parmesan and basil.
- Put back under the broiler for a few seconds until melted and bubbly. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool
- For the salad:
- Divide the tomato wedges between 4 plates and sprinkle with chopped basil.
- Divide the croutons evenly between the 3 plates and drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.