Faith’s Tomato Salad with Burrata and Torn Croutons
Whether served as an entrée or a starter, this salad from Nancy Silverton will make you feel like you're dining at an Italian café. This recipe appeared in the Italy episode of I'll Have What Phil's Having.
- For the salad:
- 3 pounds ripe red heirloom tomatoes or garden tomatoes
- 1/2 cup finishing-quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar, plus more to taste
- small handful of small basil leaves, or larger leaves torn into small pieces
- torn croutons (recipe below)
- 12 to 18 ounces burrata, mozzarella di bufala, or bocconcini
- For the torn croutons:
- 1 large loaf (1 3⁄4 to 2 pounds) rustic white bread
- 3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 medium or large garlic cloves, grated on a fine microplane (about 1 tsp)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- For the salad: Put a strainer inside a large serving bowl. Cut out and discard the cores from the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half through the stems. Pull the pulpy centers out of the tomato halves and drop the pulp into the strainer. Put the outsides of the tomatoes on a cutting board and set aside. When you’ve eviscerated all the tomato halves, push the pulp through the strainer with your hand so the juice falls into the bowl and the seeds remain in the strainer. Discard the seeds. Roughly chop the tomatoes and put them in a separate large bowl.
- Measure out 1⁄4 cup of the strained tomato juice; drink the remaining tomato juice. Add the olive oil, salt, and sugar to the measured out portion of juice and whisk to combine. Slowly add the olive oil in a thin steam, whisking constantly. Taste for seasoning and add more sugar if desired. Pour the seasoned juice over the tomatoes and stir to combine.
- To serve, transfer the tomato salad to a deep, medium bowl. Serve with the croutons in a bowl and the burrata or mozzarella on a small plate on the side for guests to build their own panzanella.
- For the croutons: Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the loaf of bread in half crossways to reveal the inside of the loaf. Pull the bread out in 1 1⁄2 to 2 inch chunks and put the chunks in a large bowl. Reserve the crumbs and crusts for another use, such as to make breadcrumbs.
- Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large ovenproof sauté pan over heat until the oil begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the garlic, stirring constantly so it doesn't brown, for about 3 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the bread chunks, season them with the salt, and toss to coat the bread with the seasoned oil. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the croutons until they are light golden brown on the edges, turning them with tongs and tossing them in the pan so they brown evenly, about 3 minutes.
- Put the sauté pan in the oven and bake the croutons for 18 to 20 minutes, until they are golden brown and crispy, turning the pan and shaking the croutons twice during the time so the croutons brown evenly. Remove the sauté pan from the oven and set the croutons aside to cool to room temperature. You can make the croutons up to 1 day in advance of serving them; store them in an airtight container at room temperature until you’re ready to use them.