Heirloom Tomato Panzanella with Bacon

Tomatoes, like cheese, can be magnificent. Especially when you find a local, vine ripened heirloom variety. Thanks to Nik Conner for sharing this recipe at New Pioneer Coop's website. Please visit the site for great food and recipes.

 

6 to 8 servings

Yeah it’s not a low-calorie dinner salad, but when tomatoes are at their peak, you’ve gotta try it at least once!




Ingredients

  • Large foil disposable pan (you can reuse them!)
  • 2 pkg. Iowa Farm Families or Niman Ranch bacon, cut into thirds
  • 4-5 medium to large tomatoes seeded and diced, or 1 pt. cherry tomatoes halved (Heirloom varieties if possible for a greater variety of color and flavor.)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 12-16 oz. mixed lettuce and or spinach, washed and ready to use
  • 1 med. onion, diced (sweet yellow or red)
  • ½ c. basil leaves, washed and torn into bite size pieces
  • 6 oz. Milton Creamery Prairie Breeze™ cheese, shaved into large slivers with a vegetable peeler
  • 2 oz. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
  • 1 loaf Bakehouse Ciabatta, sliced into ¾ inch slices
  • Basil’s Creamy Feta Dressing (to taste) or your own house recipe salad dressing

Method

  1. Get your grill ready for indirect cooking (one side hot, one side not).
  2. Place the large pan on the hot side of the grill. Lay bacon over entire bottom surface. Watch carefully, turning pan and bacon as necessary to ensure even browning. (If it’s cooking too quickly, move it towards the cooler side of the grill.)
  3. While bacon is cooking, place prepared tomatoes in a bowl big enough to stir them around in. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. In a large salad bowl, toss greens, onions, and basil. Set aside.
  5. Once bacon has browned and crisped to your liking, move to the cool side of the grill. Break into smaller pieces with your spatula or wooden spoon, if necessary. Here comes the secret weapon: See all that bacon grease in the pan? Use a grill brush to dab it on the slices of Ciabatta, both sides. If you’ve used a leaner bacon, and don’t have enough to lightly coat the bread, you can add a bit of olive oil.
  6. Grill the sliced bacon-y bread over direct heat. Have your tongs and a bowl handy; it can go quickly, and you might lose a few to flare-ups. You’re looking for golden brown grill marks on both sides. Once all the bread is done, break it into bite-sized pieces.
  7. Pull bacon off grill, and add to salad greens. Toss in the tomatoes, cheeses, dressing, and those bacon-y croutons. Make sure everything is evenly mixed, and taste for seasoning. You can add extra dressing or salt and pepper if necessary.

Divide evenly on serving plates and prepare to be amazed!