Not My Regular Salad

January 22, 2011

I have a house salad.  You know.  The one you make just about every time you make a salad.  Mine always features mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and lettuce.  Sometimes I add hearts of palm, kalamata olives, chickpeas, celery, and/or hard boiled egg slices.  Once in a great while there is cheese.

But when we have company, I usually shake it up and make another kind of salad.  My in-laws were here for the week between Christmas and New Year’s and I made dinner for all of us one night.  I was lucky enough to have a small ball of burrata in my possession and I decided to make a take on a panzanella.  I toasted up croutons, sliced up fresh basil, and since our tomatoes are ghastly this time of year, I roasted some plum tomatoes with olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar until the flavor concentrated and they were squishy.  I poured the croutons into a big bowl, scattered the basil throughout, scraped the tomatoes and their juices on top and tossed everything together with a bit of olive oil and more balsamic.  Then I pulled apart the cheese with my hands, added it to the salad, and tossed it again gently.

The result was the kind of salad that can make you forget about dinner.  The kind that people return to for seconds.  The kind that has stray fingers wandering into the bowl after everyone is stuffed, hoping for one last flavor-soaked crouton.  I was pretty proud of myself.  And I have been thinking of that salad ever since.

My brother Michael came over for dinner last night.  When I invited him, I immediately knew I wanted to re-create the salad.  The first time I ever used burrata was for a dinner that he hosted and I know he is a big fan.  Unfortunately there are only two places in Seattle that sell the stuff and neither had any.  (Seattle people, I’m talking about Calf and Kid and DeLaurenti – do you know of any other place?)  I didn’t want to abandon my plan but I had to change things up a bit.

This time I kept the croutons and basil, but I used smaller tomatoes (what is going on with plum tomatoes???) and put a few non-roasted ones in, added some pretty lettuce to fill it out a bit, and used a bit of ricotta salata I found in my cheese drawer.  I also made a dressing for a bit more flavor instead of just olive oil and balsamic.  The verdict?  I missed the burrata but this was still pretty darn good.

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chunks (ironic considering my last post)
Two Years Ago:  Lemon Bars

Roasted Tomato Salad with Croutons
Dana Treat Original
Serves 2 generously

I like my salad dressing to have a lot of bite, so I use much less olive oil than the standard 3:1 ratio.  Definitely make yours to your taste.  The baked tomatoes are a riff on a Barefoot Contessa recipe and this is a great method to make sub-par tomatoes taste good.

For the Dressing
1 small shallot, minced
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. mustard
½ tsp. sugar
Large pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil

For the Salad
5 slices good country bread, cut into 1-inch pieces
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Good balsamic vinegar
12 “strawberry” tomatoes
1 tsp. sugar
12 basil leaves, julienned or torn
2 handfuls lettuce leaves
½ cup ricotta salata, broken into big crumbles

Make the Dressing
Place the shallot, lemon juice, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper in a wide mouth jar.  Cover the jar and give it a good shake.  Remove the cover and add the olive oil.  Cover and shake again.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.  (Can be made up to a week ahead.)

Make the Salad
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Place the bread cubes on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle a large pinch of salt over top and a few grinds of black pepper.  Toss well with your hands.  Place in the oven and bake until starting to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.

Turn the oven up to 425ºF.  Slice each tomato in half.  Set aside four of them and seed the other eight.  Place on small baking tray and drizzle with olive oil along with the sugar, and a large pinch of salt and a couple grinds of pepper.  Toss gently with your hands.  Carefully drizzle on just a bit of balsamic vinegar.  Bake until dark, caramelized and slightly collapsed, about 25 minutes.  Remove and set aside.

Place the croutons in a salad bowl.  Scrape the tomatoes and any juices over top.  Chop up the raw tomatoes and add them to the bowl along with the basil and and the lettuce.  Scatter the cheese over top and pour about half the dressing over top.  Toss carefully and taste.  Add more dressing as needed.


  1. It’s good to mix things up every now and then. I think this will be my go to salad though. Love it!

    Comment by Maria — January 22, 2011 @ 4:00 am

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by james hamilton, Trapit. Trapit said: Not My Regular Salad #foodie […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Not My Regular Salad « Dana Treat – Treat Yourself -- — January 22, 2011 @ 11:23 am

  3. This is my house salad, however, only in the summer when we have Jersey tomatoes.
    Caesar is my winter “go to” salad or my daily arugula w/ lemon.
    Now I am craving a panzanella, as well as summer!

    Comment by stacey snacks — January 22, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  4. I used the Barefoot Contessa winter tomato technique all the time, it’s great! For some reason I use it just in pasta dishes, but your post makes me realize I need to branch out to salads. Who knew panzanella could be possible in winter!

    Comment by Clara — January 22, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

  5. i always add in avocado too! and pretty much whatever jarred and pickled is left in the cupboard. lol

    Comment by vanillasugarblog — January 22, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

  6. Salad is an every night event, and I concur on the ratio…we use a lot of vinegar and lemon and a smidge of oil. I am going on the hunt for Burrata, I’m always wanting to change it up!

    Comment by susie — January 22, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

  7. Yum! I can imagine how good this salad was with burrata. I have trouble finding good burrata where I am too.

    Comment by Sally — January 22, 2011 @ 4:22 pm

  8. i love a great salad, but absolutely dread a boring one. This looks great, and I’ll keep it on file for the next time I’m wanting for some green leaves.

    Comment by elizabeth @ sophisticated pie — January 22, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

  9. My mom spent most of my life serving me seriously boring salads. Which I then rebelled against by hating salads for a very long time. Now I’m back in the loving salad camp again…so long as they are interesting. And this one? I find it compellingly fascinating.

    Comment by Joanne — January 22, 2011 @ 7:06 pm

  10. I’m not much of a tomato fan, but I definitely prefer them cooked. I love the bits of bread in this salad. Isn’t it the best bit? Thanks very much for the recipe.

    Comment by Adele — January 23, 2011 @ 4:58 am

  11. I must have been a rabbit in a previous life because I eat salads all the time; anything goes but always the dressing has olive oil and garlic and lemon juice.

    Comment by tasteofbeirut — January 23, 2011 @ 7:57 am

  12. I too have my go too boring daily salad. It’s good to shake it up every once in a while. What a wonderfully delicious salad

    Comment by leslie — January 23, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

  13. I’d love to have this salad. The components marry well and that dressing sounds delicious. I’m fairly new to your blog and wanted you to know how much I like the food and recipes you feature here. I always enjoy my visits. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

    Comment by Mary — January 23, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

  14. This looks lovely and I’m all over salads right now after just discovering and making a glorious one from the Moosewood Cookbook – tofu and peanut dressing and wowness.Giant breadcrumbs or croutons in salads is one of my all time faves though. Bookmarked!

    Comment by Angharad — January 24, 2011 @ 4:34 am

  15. Have you checked PFI for Burrata? This salad looks great, I’m sure my husband would love it if I strayed from our house salad of spinach, apples, walnuts and blue cheese!

    Comment by Emily — January 24, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

  16. I love a good salad. And they can get boring and bland pretty quick. This looks like something I would get at a restaurant. It looks fresh and so professional. Mmm, mmm mmm!

    Comment by Katie — January 27, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

  17. The Whole Foods at Interbay has burrata!

    Comment by Meghan — February 2, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

  18. […] roasted tomatoes (and the dressing and salad we enjoyed them with last night) adapted from Dana Treats […]

    Pingback by honey&salt » Archive » roasted tomatoes — May 1, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

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