This is my absolute favorite time of year for produce in Maryland. We’ve got stone fruit, berries, sweet corn, fairytale eggplant and tomatoes (and that’s barely scratching the surface of everything that’s available). Between my CSA and the farmer’s market, I feel incredibly lucky to have so many options at my fingertips. That’s why when I first heard about a campaign called Save The Flavors, I was a little stunned to learn that everything I take for granted could be changing. What I’ve learned is that every year, new fruit and vegetable varieties are disappearing. They’re endangered no one is rallying to save them.
For this campaign, Seeds of Change has teamed up with celebrity Chef Hugh Acheson to spread awareness about the issue and they asked me to dedicate a post to their cause. I was more than happy to get involved. If you can spare 2 minutes, please watch this video which highlights the Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato:
The idea of the video and campaign is certainly an interesting one: eat them to save them. It sounds weird, but it’s a basic case of supply and demand. Consumers demanded organics and now even the big chains have a huge selection. If we demand endangered produce, it will have the same results. Again, you can visit Save The Flavors for more information.
Heirlooms were an obvious ingredient to feature in the recipe for this post but I stumbled a bit trying to come up with something. I really just like eating them plain with a bit of salt on top. Heirlooms have so much flavor on their own so I don’t like to overwork them. This panzanella salad really allows the tomatoes to shine and it’s a great way to showcase the variety of colors available if you can find them. I added some basil and fresh mozzarella for a caprese touch.
- ¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- pinch of ground black pepper
- 4 cups stale artisan bread (1-3 days old), cut into 2-inch cubes (see notes)
- 4-6 heirloom tomatoes (preferably assorted sizes and colors), large dice (see notes)
- 1 english cucumber, seeded and sliced into ½ inch pieces
- 1½ cups fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces or coarsely chopped
- 3-4 tablespoons fresh basil, torn into small pieces or coarsely chopped
- To prepare the vinaigrette, place the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper in a blender or jar with a tight fitting lid. Blend or shake vigorously until combined.
- In a large bowl, gently toss together the bread, tomatoes, cucumber, mozzarella and basil.
- Toss approximately ¾ of the vinaigrette with the salad ingredients and allow everything to sit for 30 minutes so that the flavors can mingle. If desired, drizzle on the remaining vinaigrette just before serving.
Stale bread is typically used in panzanella salads because it is dry and will hold its shape when the liquid is absorbed. If using fresh bread, you can dry it out by lightly toasting it. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the bread in a single layer on a sheet pan. Toast until lightly crisp and golden on the outside but still tender on the inside, approximately 5-10 minutes, stirring once or twice to toast the bread evenly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Disclaimer: I was paid to develop a recipe for Seeds Of Change in conjunction with their Save the Flavors campaign. As always, all opinions are my own. #SaveTheFlavors