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.
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Inspired by the Italian panzanella salad, which is a bread and tomato salad, but the 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.
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