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OK. I am obsessed. Possessed. Since discovering this salad, I have made it every single solitary day for 12 days and counting. I don’t know what it is – but during late summer while my tomato crop is huge, this is the salad du jour. Every ingredient is a favorite of mine: fresh heirloom or homegrown tomatoes, peppery arugula, crusty grilled dense bread, fruity balsamic vinegar, excellent extra virgin olive oil, imported great quality Parmesan cheese.
I don’t know if I’ve told you that becoming enchanted with a particular food or recipe is part of what drives me. This started during my college years: I remember keeping bags and bags of M&M’s and sacks of homemade popcorn balls in my dorm room. For several months, I ate these treats daily and sometimes several times a day. You’ll be glad to know I am “done” with both M&M’s and popcorn balls and don’t really like either of these sweet treats to this day. Then I had a yogurt phase, a gummy worm addiction, fresh lemonade, apples dipped in cinnamon/sugar were a thing for a bit. There have been other trends and passions, but this recipe has hit me hard.
This is the second time I have become crazed with a salad recipe. My homemade Caesar Salad is still a beloved first course even though I went through the dance with Caesar Salad a couple of years ago. I only make it once a month or so but I no longer crave it like I once did.
My son started the ball rolling for this particular addiction when he ordered a similar salad at our neighborhood eatery in Seattle, titled “Heirloom Tomato and Bread Salad.” He described the salad to me and on his own created what he thought was a good copycat recipe. He made it for me, he fixed it several times for himself. But no, I needed to eat the original salad and down the hill I walked to order said salad. Yup, his version was as good as the real deal. I had Jake write out his “recipe” and I then put my fingers to the computer and quantified as best I could how much of each ingredient to use.
The recipe went to Rachel and her family. They too became addicted.
I made this for three different friends, and to date, everyone has loved it. Hence the title OUR late summer salad obsession.” Not just mine, but OURS.
MAKE THIS NOW while you can still get good tomatoes. It is almost a religious experience. When the tomato season is finished, file the recipe away for next summer when it will be at the top of the list once again. Let me know if you become hooked! I’m preparing mine as soon as I finish this post.
Heirloom or Vine Ripened Summer Tomato-Bread Salad
This is for one large or two smaller salads, but you can make up to 4 at a time if you wish.
Ingredients for the Balsamic Vinaigrette (make ahead)
- 1 Tbsp fruity balsamic vinegar (I like Ritrovo brand)
- 2 Tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil (Columela is my go-to fave)
- 1 pinch dried mustard
Shake together or whisk in a bowl. This dressing can be left out for a couple of days.
Ingredients for the Salad:
- 1 cup washed and dried arugula
- 1 cup various colored heirloom tomatoes
- 1 cup (1 3/4 inch slice) grilled bread (I used Essential Baking Company’s Columbia bread)
- 1 tsp olive oil for grilling the bread
- 1/2 tsp finely chopped shallot
- Shavings of imported Parmesan Reggiano cheese
Prepare the bread by cutting it into 1 inch slices, brushing the top and bottom liberally with about 1 tsp of olive oil, and grilling until the outside has grill marks and is toasty. A stovetop grill pan works perfectly for this task. While still warm, cube into 1 inch pieces.
Remove the core from the tomatoes, cut into one inch wedges, place in a small stainless or ceramic bowl and sprinkle with ¼ tsp sea salt. Toss with your hands and let it rest for two minutes. Add arugula and sprinkle chopped shallots on top. Finally add the barely warm cubed bread and gently combine with a tongs or your hands.
Add half of the balsamic vinaigrette to the edges of your salad mixing bowl.
Mix everything by hand only, so the ingredients are barely coated. Do not over dress. It doesn’t take more salt because of the saltiness of the parmesan and pre-salted tomatoes. Transfer to a large individual salad plate, and cover with shaved parmesan cheese. I literally make shavings with a potato peeler (1” wide x 3” long or so, about six shavings per serving). Serve while the bread is still warm!! Pass the pepper grinder.
PS: I cheated in several ways. I made extra grilled bread slices. When they cooled I popped them into sealed Tupperware. The next day I reheated what I needed in the toaster oven for a minute or two, then cut it up and used it.
And I think vine ripe tomatoes taste perfectly fine. I don’t have heirloom tomatoes most of the time, although if you have these – the colors are spectacular!