10 August 2014

Summer Dreaming Begins with Heirloom Tomato BLT Panzanella Salad

Heirloom Tomato BLT Panzanella Salad
 Walking through the farmers market this time of year, you can't help but realise that tomato season has arrived.  Tomatoes are available all year round but it’s not until the summer that they really come into their own. When wandering you can literally feel the excitement at farmer’s markets and fruit stands all over the valley. Perfectly plump workhorse beefsteaks, pints of adorable cherry tomatoes just begging to be snacked on, and of course, the queen bee of the pack, the knobby heirlooms, in every shape and size imaginable, are just now making their noble debut.  The rich tapestry of colours, the diversity and depth of flavour, and the general beauty of the tomatoes provide an experience that your average grocery tomato just can't match. I wait all year for their arrival and now they are here!!!!!!

In recent years, heirloom tomatoes have caught the fancy of an increasing number of gardeners and local growers making them more widely available.  These are the tomatoes that people have fallen in love with, and have deemed worthy of keeping from plants that have been grown year after year and handed down from gardener to gardener. Heirloom tomato seeds, like your grandmother’s china, are viewed as precious family treasures that have been passed from generation to generation. For an heirloom tomato to qualify for heirloom status it has to have been around for at least 50 years. Newer genetic variations are classified as hybrids.

Heirloom tomatoes have several advantages over hybrids. Most importantly they have outstanding flavour! They also come in a variety of colours, pink, yellow, orange, maroon, purple and may even be marbled or striped or have unusual shapes. Until the 20th century and the onset of hybrids tomato varieties were every shape but round. With names like Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Kellogg's Breakfast, San Marzano, Yellow Pear, Radiator and Charlie's Mortgage Lifter how can you resist!!!

Nature blesses perfectly ripe summer tomatoes with their own ideal dressing. Rich olive oil and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper are practically all that’s needed to bring out the sunny flavour of summer tomatoes and complement the sweet-tart acidity of their natural juices.

Use the showiest farmers' market or heirloom tomatoes you can find for this salad that combines my favourite seasonal sandwich and a classic Italian salad, with a touch of corn and basil thrown in for an extra summery flair. This recipe is based upon one found at Cooking Light. The saltiness of the bacon, the peppery arugula and the sweetness of the tomatoes offer the perfect  balance of summer flavours.

Heirloom tomatoes hold a special place in my heart. Some of my favourites are...

Warm Gnocchi Salad with Carpaccio of Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil
Layered Heirloom Tomatoes with Feta and Basil Oil
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata
Heirloom Tomatoes with Feta, Basil and Balsamic Syrup
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette

**Heirloom Tomato BLT Panzanella Salad**

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 ounces Italian bread, crusts trimmed, torn into 1/4-inch pieces
3/4 cup fresh corn kernels
4 large ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 cup small multicoloured cherry tomatoes, halved
1/8 teaspoon plus dash of kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup baby arugula
3 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced fresh chives
1/4 cup basil leaves
3 apple wood-smoked bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn kernels and sauté until lightly browned. Remove and set aside. Add bread to skillet; sauté 5 minutes or until bread is toasted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in corn.

Sprinkle tomatoes with dash of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; let tomatoes stand 5 minutes.

Combine remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, vinegar, and oil in a large bowl. Add bread mixture and arugula; toss to coat. Combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, and chives in a small bowl.

Arrange tomatoes and bread mixture on a large platter. Drizzle with mayonnaise mixture; sprinkle evenly with basil and bacon.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. I love buying fresh tomatoes at this time of the year. I really have to try a Tomato BLT Panzanella Salad. Never made one or ate one before.

  2. All varieties of heirloom tomatoes are all wonderful, but Cherokee Purples are my favorite I am a big tomato lover and each photo is more spectacular. I think i'll start with the panzanella.

  3. I adore panzanella salad made with just about any fresh tomatoes! Since my husband doesn't care for heirlooms, I have any in my garden, but when I see them in the markets, WOW, I sure do love to look at their beauty! I love the selection of your favorite tomato recipes! All excellent as are all of your recipes, Val!

  4. What a wonderful use of "real" tomatoes. So glad someone thought to resurrect heirlooms.


  5. I am not sure I ever had panzanella. Shame on me. In southern Italy we have something similar though involving crusty bagels called freselle. I'm so up for this now... heirloom tomatoes are a real treat!

  6. Oh Val, you have me longing for summer!! :-) I have heaps of heirloom tomato seeds just waiting to be planted. These all look gloriously delicious.

  7. I almost bought some heirloom tomatoes, and now seeing this I wish I had!
    I would have made my infamous tomato pie.
    BUT I might try a panzanella salad with hard, crusty sourdough bread. That sounds good right?

  8. Lovely tomatoes and recipes! I'm heading down to the market for some right now :)

  9. Mmmm...Thank you for not putting anchovies in your panzanella!

  10. This is a gorgeous salad!! Heirloom tomatoes are the best :)


  11. Val, you are making me hungry with these tomato pictures.

  12. This salad looks delicious, Val. I'm looking for recipes that don't require turning the oven on. I can't get enough vine ripened tomatoes.

  13. I haven't thrown myself all in yet for tomato season because I know once I do I'll be rolling in tomatoes for the duration. GREG

  14. Those tomatoes look amazing and the salads delicious. I wish we had more heirloom tomatoes down here in Mexico.

  15. Tomatoes are divine at the farmers market during the summer season….Your salad represents the summer flavors. Love it! Thanks for sharing.


  16. My favorite tomatoes! Love this simple salad preparation...like caprese, but somehow more delicious.

  17. heirloom tomatoes have such a better flavor than plain ol' beefsteak and the like. what a beautiful presentation!

  18. This is seriously the most beautiful salad I've seen in a long time. What gorgeous tomatoes!!


  19. MMMM.Last week was the first week for local heirlooms here and I have made 4 different salads with them. Now I have a fifth to try! :-)

  20. Oh wow, a beautiful way to represent the beauty of tomatoes.

  21. Oddly enough, we have not had very good tomatoes this summer but we did come across the dark green zebra striped tomatoes at the supermarket that are very good! I love this salad, love the ingredients....


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