This Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salad with Garlic Confit Toast is the perfect way to highlight beautiful Summer tomatoes!
For me, the absolute best part of Summer cooking is when you come upon a beautiful lot of Summer's best produce and then you plot how to best enjoy it.
I came upon a basket of these beautiful heirloom cherry tomatoes recently and there was absolutely no way I was leaving the market without them! I knew they'd need to be enjoyed in their most delicious, natural state, so I set out to create a salad worthy of them.
This combination of tomatoes and bread is classically a panzanella salad, but to make it even more special (and befitting the beautiful tomatoes), I substituted simple toasted bread cubes with garlic confit toast cubes.
The choice of garlic confit toast was not completely random. You see, I picked up some fresh garlic at the market several weeks ago and I have been curing it myself. It sounds complicated, but curing fresh garlic is super simple. You can see one of the garlic I cured in the photo above!
How to Cure Fresh Garlic
Do not rinse off dirt or trim roots or green tops. Hang up in a cool, dark place by the green tops. Allow to "cure" for at least 2 weeks before using. To use, simply trim off the tops and roots and rinse off and dry.
Cook's Notes for Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salad with Garlic Confit Toast
While making this salad with fresh Summer, heirloom cherry tomatoes is the absolute best, you can enjoy this salad any time of year with cherry or grape tomatoes. If you can get a variety of colours, even better!
While perfect as it is, you can change this tomato salad up with the addition of crumbled feta or goat cheese or even some Parmesan shavings.
Another way to change this one up is to swap the red wine vinegar for balsamic, for another great flavour combination.
When simmering the garlic in butter, watch it like a hawk and don't move the temperature above low. It can and will burn and burnt garlic is not a pleasant taste.
Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salad with Garlic Confit Toast
Garlic Confit Toast:
- 1/2 head garlic (about 3-4 cloves peeled)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1/4 tsp dried oregano leaves)
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 baguette
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the salad:
- 3 cups Cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 1/4 red onion (thinly sliced)
- 6 large fresh basil leaves (chopped)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- For the Garlic Confit Toast: Melt butter in a small saucepan over LOW heat. Add garlic cloves. Cover saucepan and cook, stirring and checking regularly, for 10-15 minutes. Watch closely and don't raise heat above low, or garlic and/or butter may burn. Transfer garlic (and any butter) to a medium bowl and let cool completely.
- Once garlic has cooled, add Parmesan, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Mash to a paste and season with a little salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Preheat your oven broiler with rack about 6-8 inches from heat. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Slice the 1/2 baguette in half lengthwise. Place two baguette pieces on baking sheet and broil, cut side down, until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes (watch carefully). Remove from oven, let cool slightly, then flip over and spread cut side with garlic paste. Broil until cheese is golden and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Cut one of the baguette slices into bite-sized cubes. Set aside.
- For the salad: In a large bowl, combine the halved cherry tomatoes, red onion slices and chopped basil. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Whisk together the salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle over tomato mixture and toss to combine. Add only enough to moisten. Add some of the garlic bread cubes. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.