This Tomato Salad is one of our absolute favourite meals to make in the summer. To the point that we have to ration how many times we have it, so that we can still have enough tomatoes for other things. Seriously, it’s amazing. If you can, use tomatoes of many colours and sizes for a truly beautiful salad. But don’t worry if you only have one variety! This salad is still amazing.
So Many Tomato Varieties
I started making versions of this tomato salad a few years ago, right after finding Indian Creek Orchard Gardens. They are a small farm outside of Ottawa who offer CSA baskets, as well as a farm stand. Two of the things they sell that they are quite proud of are their wide variety of fun and funky tomatoes and some very hot peppers! This was before I was growing too much of my own stuff, so it was a great way to supplement my very small garden. And, honestly, finding a source of interesting tomato varieties was really fun.
And again, don’t worry if you don’t have access to funky tomato varieties! In the summer, all tomatoes are delicious. You can easily make this salad entirely with beefsteak or roma, or even with only cherry tomatoes! I like to cut my larger tomatoes into different sized pieces anyways, and that’s a great way to make a simple salad beautiful.
Hot Peppers or No Hot Peppers
Now, of course you don’t need to add a hot pepper, this salad is still yummy without the heat. But something about the cool crisp tomatoes alongside the heat of a pepper is just so wonderful. So if you do add a hot pepper, choose a variety based on your tastes. Don’t try to be brave and use one that will make you cry and breathe fire. You should still enjoy the experience! If you’re unsure, then pick a slightly more mild pepper, or replace the pepper with a dried spice that you’re more familiar with. And don’t forget, when working with hot peppers, WEAR GLOVES! Don’t try to be a toughy and go without gloves, because you will inevitably not wash off all the spice and then touch your eyes. (Or go to the bathroom, males!)
When I first made this tomato salad, it was just tomatoes, bacon, cheese, basil and heat. But I’m a huge fan of croutons, so eventually I realized that this salad needed them! Use the best sourdough you can get your hands on, or make your own with this recipe. Then either, fry the big chunks in your bacon fat, or brush thick slices with oil, grill them, and tear them up. And though this salad stores fine in the fridge, those croutons are best if they are still hot and crisp when you serve up the salad.
And Bacon of Course!
Now I love bacon, but of course not everyone eats bacon, and that’s fine. For my vegetarian and vegan friends; what you’re looking for is that crunchy, salty, umami flavour to level up your tomato salad. Plenty of good vegan bacon exists, and can be crisped up nicely. And I’ve also once had this salad with coconut bacon that was also super yummy. This recipe from Jessica In The Kitchen is the one I used, with great success.
If you make this awesome salad, and enjoy it as much as we do, let me know! Share a pic on Instagram and tag me! Enjoy those yummy summer tomatoes!
- 6 cups Chopped Tomatoes A bunch of sizes and colours if you can get your hands on them.
- 4 Slices Thick Cut Bacon
- 3 tbsp Fresh Basil finely sliced
- 2 cups Cubed Sourdough
- Salt This will be used to help drain some of the extra water from the tomatoes. You'll use a lot more than you'll actually taste or consume.
- 1 small Hot Chili Pepper Based on your heat tolerance. Sliced finely.
- 1/4 cup Shaved Fresh Parmesan
- 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Begin by draining the tomatoes. Place all your chopped tomatoes into a strainer in the sink. Sprinkle about 1-2 tbsp of salt onto the tomatoes and mix. Don't panic. I know it's a lot of salt, but don't worry, almost all the salt will drain away. The reason you want to salt the tomatoes, is so that your salad isn't super wet. So it's a very important step, don't skip it! After mixing the salt into the tomatoes, let it sit and drain in the sink for about 30 minutes. During this time, cook your bacon, and your croutons.
- Cook your bacon in full slices, until it's crispy but not burnt. Drain the slices on a towel, and break into medium and small chunks.
- I don't drain off my excess bacon fat, because I want the croutons to be very crispy. Heat the fat up again to medium heat. Add all the sourdough cubes and while stirring frequently, fry up the croutons to a golden crisp. Remove the croutons and immediately sprinkle with salt, while draining on a towel.
- Once the tomatoes have lost a bunch of their water, add them to a big salad bowl. Add the bacon, basil, chili pepper, and parmesan. Toss to combine. Drizzle on the vinegar and oil, and toss again.
- Finally, add your croutons and give everything another toss. While also seasoning with salt and pepper to your tastes.