Growing Chefs! Ontario Agri-Food Education Spring 2021 | Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad

Agri-Food Education Spring 2021 | Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad

This tuscan bread salad is perfect for summer when tomatoes are at their peak! This salad is a tasty accompaniment to a bbq meal as the halloumi cooks up beautifully on the grill!
Serves 6-8
1 loaf ciabatta or Italian crusty bread, cut into 2cm cubes1 small red onion, thinly sliced2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges1 cucumber, cut into wedges1 bunch basil200 grams halloumi cheese, or about 1 package2 tablespoons olive oil, divided Salt to taste Pepper to taste

For the Dressing:

1 cup basil, loosely packed2 cloves garlic, finely minced1 lemon, juiced3 tablespoons red wine vinegar1 teaspoon honey3/4 cup olive oil Salt to taste Pepper to taste
Cutting boardMeasuring cupsMeasuring spoonsBread knifeChef's knifeRasp (optional)Food processor or blenderLarge frying panBBQ, or grill pan (optional)Bowls, various sizesBaking sheetWooden spoonTongsTasting spoonsDish towel

Get Organized!

Gather your mis en place; get together all of the equipment needed for the recipe and gather your ingredients.

Get Prepped!

Cut the bread into slices with a bread knife about 2 centimetres thick, and then slice into cubes, about 2 centimetres each. 

Cut the onion in half from root to tip, and remove the skin. Cut off the root and the tip of the onion and then slice the onion lengthwise from root to tip very thinly. 

Remove the stem from the tomatoes and cut them in half through the core. Cut them into small wedges from top to bottom. 

Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, and then cut into small wedges.

Remove the leaves from the stem of the basil and discard the stem. Roughly tear the basil into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

Cut the halloumi cheese into slices about 12 centimetre thick. In a bowl, toss the halloumi with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 

In another bowl, toss the bread pieces with the other tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 

For the dressing:

Remove basil leaves from its stem and measure out 1 cup of leaves, loosely packed. 

Using a rasp, finely grate the garlic or chop the garlic using a knife. 

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze out as much juice as possible, using your hand or a fine strainer to remove the seeds. 

Measure out the red wine vinegar, olive oil, and honey. Add all ingredients, except the olive oil, to the bowl of a food processor. 

Get Cooking!

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add the cubed bread to the pan, working in batches to toast it. The bread should be golden brown and crispy on the outside, but not burnt. Set aside to cool on a baking sheet. 

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and basil leaves with the toasted bread. 

To make the dressing: 

Combine basil leaves with minced garlic, honey, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. While the machine in running, slowly add the olive oil to emulsify the dressing. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper. Add enough dressing to the salad bowl to coat the ingredients and reserve the remaining dressing. 

Heat the bbq or grill pan over medium heat and once hot, cook the halloumi for 2 – 3 minutes on each side. The cheese should be crispy, beginning to brown, and just starting to melt. 

Add the grilled cheese to the salad bowl and toss to combine. Serve on a large platter with additional dressing on the side. This salad is best served immediately, when the cheese is freshly grilled and still warm.