My favorite time of summer is upon us.  Mid-August is when the native bounty of produce is readily available at every farmers market and fruit stand. 

Tomatoes get top billing this time of year, and this panzanella salad using gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and our Italian Ciabatta Table Loaf is a perfect quick side dish for a juicy steak or chicken breasts coming off of the grill.

There are dozens and dozens of heirloom tomato varieties growing in Massachusetts, and over the last 3 years I have discovered an expanding list of my favorites.  Verrill farm in Concord hosts a "Corn and Tomato Festival" that showcases over 30 varieties of different shapes, sizes and colors.  Every summer I anxiously await this event (Food Dork Alert!), which has become a family tradition.

For this recipe, I picked up three good size tomatoes of assorted colors (yellow, green, and red) which totaled about two pounds.  This recipe can be thrown together while your main dish is in the process of cooking.  I like to grill the Ciabatta for an extra element of texture, as well as a nice lightly charred flavor.

The quick lemon basil vinaigrette that dresses this keeps the salads summery feel.

As in most of my recipes, there are no rules here, throw in whatever else you seem fit- peppers, cucumbers, onion, it's all good!

Happy Cooking!

Grilled Ciabatta Panzanella


1.5 TBL fresh lemon juice

1 tsp fresh lemon zest

8 basil leaves, finely chopped

1/4 tsp Dijon mustard

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

-Add first four ingredients to a bowl (if whisking) or a blender (if blending)

-in a slow stream add oil while whisking or blending.

- Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste


2 lbs assorted heirloom tomatoes

1 small shallot, cut in small chunks

1 small de-seeded jalapeño, diced

1/2 loaf of Italian Ciabatta table loaf

-Cut the Ciabatta in 1" slices and season with a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper

- Cut the tomatoes in bite size chunks, no need to be uniform- some can be slices, some wedges etc.

- grill the Ciabatta until charred in some spots, then cut or tear into bite size chunks.

- combine all salad ingredients in a bowl and lightly dress with the vinaigrette, you may have dressing left over that you can store in the fridge.

Enjoy in the open air of a beautiful summer night.

Happy Cooking!