Last weekend I bought a bunch of gorgeous cherry and small tomatoes in a rainbow of colors with only one idea in mind: making a tomato-centric salad that would make the most of their perfectly ripe, summery taste.
I was inspired by a simple recipe Jamie Oliver made in his Andalusia TV show and decided to add a Spanish twist to the classic Italian Panzanella salad. The addition of crunchy croutons, feta cheese and chopped almonds makes the dish nutritious enough to be served as a main, although you could very well serve it in smaller portions alongside grilled meat.
Salting and resting tomatoes allows excess water to drip out and concentrates the flavor. It also takes care of the seasoning, as the tomatoes absorb only the right amount of salt. With the addition of chorizo and feta, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to add any more salt to the salad, but make sure to taste before serving and season again if needed.
16 oz [450 g] mixed cherry tomatoes, halved or coarsely chopped
1 tsp [10 ml] sea or kosher salt
6 tbsp [90 ml] extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups [500 ml] cubed stale bread
1 small dry chorizo sausage (about 4 oz [115 g]), sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced thinly
1 tbsp [15 ml] Sherry vinegar
1 green onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup [60 ml] mixed herbs, packed (oregano, basil, marjoram and/or flat-leaf parsley)
2.5 oz [70 g] feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp [30 ml] raw almonds, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Fleur de sel or coarse sea salt, to serve
Place the chopped tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl or in the sink. Sprinkle with ½ tsp [2.5 ml] salt, toss well, then add the remaining ½ tsp [2.5 ml] salt and toss again. Let rest for 15 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons [30 ml] olive oil in a large pan over low heat. Add the cubed bread and sauté until golden on all sides. You want the bread to be crunchy on the outside but still chewy on the inside. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. In the same pan (don’t wash it), add 2 tablespoons [30 ml] olive oil and warm over medium heat. Add the chorizo slices and sauté until they start to crisp up, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the thinly sliced garlic clove and mix well so the garlic infuses the oil but doesn’t burn. Pour the chorizo and garlic mixture (with the oil) into a bowl and let cool.
Toss the tomatoes in the colander lightly and discard any juice that has come out of them. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons [30 ml] olive oil, 1 tablespoon [15 ml] Sherry vinegar, the sliced green onion and the chopped herbs; toss well and season with freshly ground black pepper. Using a slotted spoon, add the chorizo and garlic slices to the tomato salad, then add 1 tablespoon [15 ml] of the garlic-infused frying oil. Toss again. (Keep any remaining garlic-infused frying oil, it’s delicious to sauté chicken or shrimp!)
When ready to serve, add the bread cubes and half the feta cheese to the salad and mix well. Transfer to individual plates and top each serving with the remaining feta cheese and chopped almonds.
Recipe Credit: Inspired by a recipe by Jamie Oliver.