Without doubt tomatoes are the leading reason folks get up off the couch in America and out into the garden. After you’ve tasted a store bought tomato and then compared it to a home grown tomato, you will become an avid gardener and you will do so because home grown tomatoes taste so much sweeter, so much juicer and so much better than store bought.
We love tomato season and these days there are many varieties to choose from at the farmer’s market or your local grocery store and that’s fine but we also enjoy growing our own tomatoes and hands-down prefer the taste of homegrown to store bought.
We’ve had all kinds of gardens –from a tilled up spot in our backyard, to the more sophisticated raised garden beds (less weeds), to patio gardens. We’ve grown tomatoes wherever we could and in all kinds of containers. This year we’re growing several tomato plants in 3 and 6-gallon plastic pots on the front deck in full sun.
Nothing fancy about it. Our good friend, Martin, wired up some pretty neat tomato cages from a roll of rabbit wire that works well around the outside of a 3-gallon pot and fits perfectly inside a 6-gallon size pot. Both support heavy summer growth and effectively support the tomatoes while they ripen.
Now when it comes to eating tomatoes we enjoy them every way imaginable. We slice `um and dice `um for sandwiches and soups, skillet caramelizing other tomatoes to adorn rosemary focaccia, we bake them slow in the oven mixed with herbs, cheese and garlic, (http://onepotcookingformen.com/cooking/roasted-tomatoes-with-garlic-and-herbs/) but when it comes to simple, health satisfying meals nothing in our book comes close to Panzanella salad.
When we think of Panzanella Salad, we think of the perfect summer lunch or dinner. If you search the web for Panzanella Salad you will find many versions. Most have a vinaigrette dressing, ours does not. Our version is simple and fresh – bread, tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice and Burrata cheese.
If you haven’t discovered Burrata cheese then you must look for it. It’s fresh mozzarella on the outside with a creamy texture on the inside. It’s truly delicious but if you can’t find Burrata, then fresh mozzarella works well too. We buy Burrata at Trader Joe’s in the dairy section in 8 oz. containers. Each container has two 4 oz. rounds and is really worth the effort if you can fine it.
Prep Time: About 20:00 minutes
Cooking Time: About 10:00 minutes
Tools you’ll need:
A Large Bowl for Mixing
A Screen Strainer (for rinsing the tomatoes)
A Spoon for Stirring
A Kitchen Knife or Cleaver
Pint of Cherry Tomatoes
Demi Baguette – we enjoy Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat baguette, day old is best
Olive Oil (to taste)
Burrata Cheese or fresh mozzarella
Lemon Juice (to taste)
Fresh basil (to taste)
Preheat your oven to 225 degrees.
First, slice your baguette in bite size pieces.
Season with olive oil.
Toast in the Oven for 10:00 or until lightly toasted
As your bread toasts, wash and slice your tomatoes into half and quarters.
Add the lemon juice.
Add the olive oil.
Add the toasted bread and combine.
Add the Burrata cheese breaking into pieces with your fingers.
Add the fresh basil, stir to combine.
FYI / If you love tomatoes and have yet to try growing your own, either in your backyard or in pots on the balcony or patio, we’ve provided you with links below that will answer all your growing questions, just click and we’ll do the rest.