Heirloom Tomato Panzanella

Tomatoes, like cheese, can be magnificent. Especially when you find a local, vine ripened heirloom variety.

2 packages of bacon, cut into thirds (We prefer Niman Ranch)

4 to 5 medium to large heirloom tomatoes seeded and diced

12 oz. mixed lettuce and or spinach, washed and ready to use

1 medium red onion, diced

½ cup of basil leaves, washed and torn into bite size pieces

6 oz. Prairie Breeze, shaved into large slivers with a vegetable peeler

2 oz. grated Pecorino Romano

1 loaf of ciabatta, sliced into ¾ inch slices

Your choice of vinaigrette salad dressing

Salt & pepper to taste

Get your grill ready for indirect cooking (one side hot, one side not).

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.)

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.

In a large salad bowl, toss greens, onions, and basil. Set aside.

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.

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.

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!

 


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