I’m a shameless thief when it comes food. More specifically food in a restaurant that calls out for me to take the idea home and recreate it as my own.
That happened last weekend. After a delicious lunch on Friday at Redd in Yountville—where I ate heirloom tomatoes, perfectly seasoned and marinated in their own juices and served in a bowl alongside a slice of toasted bread topped with burrata—I made my own version Saturday night for dinner.
I had been toying with the idea of a layered panzanella, so it wasn’t so much stealing as it was being inspired when it came time to actually try it.
In the summer, we eat a lot of tomatoes, and “Law” (my new favorite word from “The Help”) knows I LOVE bread, but in general panzanella is too bready for me. This recipe solves that with just the right amount of toasted bread, layered between juicy tomatoes and creamy fresh mozzarella.
Jack and I loved the final version and ate it with a zucchini bruschetta for a perfect light dinner on the patio. Josh ate the tomatoes without the bread and cheese and then, as usual, drank the juices that collected in the bowl. Yep, it’s that good.
1 red onion
1 small garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 pint ripe cherry tomatoes
1/2 pound ripe heirloom tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
8 1/2-inch-thick slices of sourdough or Pugliese batard
1 whole garlic clove, peeled and halved
8 ounces fresh mozzarella or burrata, cut into 8 slices
Slice off the stem part of the onion, keeping the brown fringy part intact. Set the onion on a cutting board on the cut side so it sits flat. Cut one of the round sides off so you end up with a piece that looks like a half moon. Set the half moon piece on the cutting board, flat side down. Cut it into super thin slices from one small end to the other. Reserve the rest of the onion for another use.
Put the onion, garlic and vinegar in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
Stir the cherry and heirloom tomatoes into the bowl with the onion and garlic. Add the basil, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake until crisp, about 8 minutes. (If you are adept at the grill, you can grill the bread first then brush with olive oil). Rub each slice with the cut garlic clove and arrange a slice of cheese on top.
Spoon some of the tomato mixture into four bowls. Top with a bread slice and spoon more of the tomato mixture over the top. Spoon any remaining juice over the tomatoes below the bread.
What to drink: Chardonnay. We splurged—it was a Saturday night in a summer that is going way too fast—with a Brewer Clifton Mt. Carmel Chardonnay ($56). A good choice for an everyday Chardonnay is Edna Valley ($11).