Samin Nosrat’s Tomato, Basil, and Cucumber Panzanella with Grated Tomato Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 (1-pound) loaf of day-old rustic or sourdough bread
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
4 very ripe small tomatoes (about 1 pound)
8 fresh basil leaves, torn into large pieces
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
½ teaspoon plus a pinch of kosher salt
¾ cup thinly sliced red onion
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 ½ pounds Early Girl or other flavorful ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces (about 3 ½ cups)
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste, divided
4 Persian cucumbers, peeled and cut into ½-inch thick slices (about 2 ¼ cups)
16 fresh basil leaves, torn into large pieces
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
For the croutons:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the crust from the bread, and discard or reserve it for another use. Cut the loaf into 1-inch-thick slices; cut the slices into 1-inch-wide strips. Tear the strips into 1-inch pieces, and toss with the olive oil until evenly coated. Spread in an even layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Bake until the croutons are golden brown and crisp, about 18 to 22 minutes, flipping the croutons and rotating the pans. Sprinkle with kosher salt and let them cool in a single layer.
For the tomato vinaigrette:
Stir together the shallots, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar in a medium bowl; let that stand for 15 minutes. Cut the tomatoes in half, and grate the cut sides on large holes of a box grater until only the skin remains. Discard the skins. Set aside 1 cup of tomato pulp. (Reserve the remaining tomato pulp for another use.) Stir the tomato pulp, oil, basil leaves, garlic, and kosher salt into the vinegar mixture; let that stand at least 10 minutes or up to 30 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic. (Taste the vinaigrette with a crouton or tomato slice, and adjust salt and acid as needed.) Set aside 1 ¼ cups of the vinaigrette; reserve remaining vinaigrette for another use.
For the salad:
Toss together the onion and vinegar in a small bowl; let stand 20 minutes. Set aside. Place half of the croutons in a large salad bowl, and toss with ½ cup of the reserved vinaigrette. Place the tomatoes on top of the croutons, and season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt (to encourage them to release some of their juices); let stand 10 minutes.
Remove the onions from the vinegar, reserving the vinegar. Add the onions, cucumbers, basil, and remaining croutons to the bowl with the tomatoes. Toss with the reserved onion vinegar, remaining ¾ cup reserved vinaigrette, and remaining ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, adjusting the amounts as desired. Divide the salad evenly among 4 to 6 plates. Sprinkle with sea salt.
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