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It's Tomato Week!
A recipe for Panzanella with Halloumi. Plus, I really like texting about the farmers' market.
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Welcome to Tomato Week — a thing I totally made up but am very excited about! This time of year, markets are absolutely bursting with tomatoes and I simply cannot get enough. I want tomatoes on toast, tomatoes with pasta, tomatoes eaten plain with just a kiss of salt. Tomatoes are my favorite fruit-slash-vegetable and, honestly, they might be my favorite food period.
This *made up but very serious holiday week* is a time for me to cook all kinds of fun tomato things and share them with you. Tomato Week will be a deluge of tomatoes and I think you’ll like it. I will share a few recipes here and share a few things on Instagram, so if you don’t follow me there, you should. If you’re as excited about tomatoes as I am, share this newsletter with your friends! With your mom! With a person you met in line at coffee! The more the merrier, I always say.
To kick off Tomato Week, I’ve got a Panzanella with Halloumi. The first time I made this I had too much halloumi and not enough tomatoes, so it felt like I was eating a bowl of cheese. Which isn’t necessarily the worst thing, but maybe not a sustainable thing for my health. I thought about removing the halloumi all together, but the people of the internet had a resounding interest in halloumi in this salad. To fix the bowl of cheese situation, I doubled the tomatoes and added some cucumbers and red onions.
But before we get to the recipe, I just want to highlight how much I talk about going to the market:
Panzanella with Crispy Halloumi
2 1/2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium cucumber (I like Persian best) thinly sliced, about 1 cup
1 block halloumi, cubed in 1in blocks
Olive oil: 1/2 cup for dressing, 5 tbsp for cooking bread and halloumi
About 6 oz ciabatta or rustic sourdough bread, cut into 1 1/2–inch cubes (a Trader Joe’s Ciabatta Demi-Baguette for reference)
6 medium cloves garlic, 4 smashed (for the bread), 2 grated (for the dressing)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup rough chopped herbs: mostly basil, but also oregano, thyme, and parsley
Mix the tomatoes with 2 tsp of salt and set in a colander over a bowl for them to drain.
Heat a medium/large skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl in two tbsp olive oil, add bread, a pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Cook for 5 minutes and let bread toast, keeping an eye out for smoking oil (if it smokes, turn down temp). As bread toasts, add another swirl of olive oil and add the garlic, cooking the two together for another 5 minutes. Bread chunks should be crispy and golden brown. Move to a bowl to cool and wipe out skillet.
This is definitely a more involved way to make crusty bread, but I do this whenever I want croutons with salad and I happen to think the results are superior to an oven. If you want to toast the bread in a more passive fashion, you can bake them on a lined baking tray. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake about 15 minutes, adding garlic half way through, until crisp and firm but not browned. Remove from oven and let cool.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Add halloumi and cook for 5-7 minutes, continually moving the cheese so it doesn’t burn. The halloumi might stick, but you can scrape it a bit and keep it moving to try and prevent this.
To make the dressing, whisk dijon with drained tomato liquid, red wine vinegar, garlic, and pepper. Add in oil and whisk until emulsified. Adjust for salt if needed.
Gently mix together all of the ingredients. Ideally, let rest for 15-20 minutes. But it will still be good if you simply can’t wait.
If you happen to have leftovers, the bread won’t keep well with everything mixed, so I go back and remove the bread and store separately. It’s an annoying extra step, but this means the bread won’t turn to complete mush if you eat some as leftovers.