A few weeks ago we talked tomatoes (slow roasted with garlic and herbs, mmm) and that they are in fact a fruit. They also happen to be the world's most popular fruit, with bananas coming in second place, followed by apples with the bronze. There are over 10,000 varieties, in countless sizes, shapes, and colours- have you seen nearly black-purple cherry tomatoes? Yellow pear? Stripey green?
Tomatoes are thought to have been domesticated and cultivated as a food by the indigenous peoples of México, where they were being eaten as early as 700AD. Seafaring explorers carried seeds to European shores, where they were grown mainly as an ornamental plant in the 16th century, likely due to their family history: tomatoes are a nightshade, as are potatoes, eggplant, and even tobacco. Just so happens that there are a few poisonous members of this large extended family, like belladonna, or the aptly named deadly nightshade. Lucky for us, the edible tomato grew in popularity, offering a big vitamin boost while delivering superb flavour and an endless array of ways in which to prepare and partake of them.
Since the last batch of tomatoes went into the oven for a slow and sweet roast, I figured I'd use these red beauties fresh at peak ripeness. Panzanella is a chopped salad, originating in Tuscany, that demands luscious, juicy summer tomatoes to toss with torn bread (pan), herbs, and olive oil. It's simple and delectable, and easily altered to suit your tastes. I veered slightly off the beaten track, inspired to use the pungent fresh dill in our veggie box, intermingled with crusty sourdough, crisp cucumber, and salty grilled halloumi, all coated in fruity local olive oil and tangy vinegar. This is a hearty salad that can easily be eaten as a meal, or served as a side to a larger gathering.
500g of ripe Tomatoes, cubed in large bite size chunks
3 cups of Sourdough, toasted or grilled, then roughly torn into mouth friendly pieces
1 large Cucumber, chopped
200g Haloumi or Tofu, sliced into 8 pieces, then grilled or pan fried
4 tablespoons fresh Dill, chopped
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 clove Garlic, grated
1 teaspoon Dijon or Wholegrain Mustard
Fresh Cracked Pepper
The How To:
Assemble all the ingredients ahead of time; this is a salad that you want to serve soon after putting together, before the distinct flavours and textures meld and go soggy.
Mix oil, vinegar, garlic, and mustard in a shaker or with a whisk.
In a large salad bowl place tomatoes, sourdough, cucumber, and haloumi. Pour the salad dressing over the lot and sprinkle in fresh dill. Stir, then taste, and add salt and pepper as you prefer. Buon appetito!
Created by Elena Keir of Naked Cakes and Wholefoods