If you have a generous supply of cherry tomatoes and like croutons, this salad is for you. It is an adaptation of a dish we ate at a quaint sidewalk cafe while visiting Hamburg, Germany, two years ago in August (well before the Covid-19 virus). Recently, I found a similar recipe on a German food blog, “Mediterraner Brotsaladmit Tomate-Mozzarella,” which roughly translates to “Mediterranean bread salad with tomato mozzarella.” Who else would think of naming a salad, “bread salad”? I am renaming the salad with emphasis on the tomatoes. It is a great way to jazz up cherry tomatoes by adding in flavorful croutons (with Mediterranean-type herbs) made with New Orleans-style French bread. Here is my recipe variation.
I have the best luck growing cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes in my garden compared to all the tomato varieties that I’ve planted. These tiny tomatoes come in many shapes and sizes. The rounds ones are cherry tomatoes. They tend to be juicier with thinner skins. The oval ones are grape tomatoes with thicker skins and are the ones usually sold in grocery stores. I like to add a few of these tomatoes to green salads. This recipe features the tomatoes as the main ingredient.
Growing Container Tomatoes — You can do it!
Cherry tomatoes grow in clusters on the vine — almost like grapes. These tomato plants are the first ones to produce tomatoes in early summer and they grow prolifically. I plant these in containers with a rich potting soil and good drainage and they just take off in the spring. So if you have a very, very sunny spot in your yard or balcony; there is no reason why you can’t grow these tomatoes. Just give them lots and lots of water!
The containers are large paint buckets which I purchased at Home Depot. We drilled drainage holes in the bottom of the buckets and added pebbles and sand for drainage (also from Home Depot). I used Miracle-Gro® Potting Soil. It is expensive (so the set up probably costs more that the tomatoes) but this soil has the right blend of soil, peat moss and compost to successfully grow vegetables. And it works! It’s all about the satisfaction of “doing it yourself.”
For the tomato part of the salad, I cut the small tomatoes in half and marinated them in lemon juice and olive oil along with green onions. Balsamic vinegar would also be great in this salad.
For the croutons, I used New Orleans-style French bread with a course texture. This bread is light and airy and crumbly. Our local grocery store ships this bread in daily from New Orleans and I love to use it for po boys and the leftovers for croutons. It doesn’t matter if the bread is a day or too old. Stale bread works for croutons. The recipe calls for “Mediterranean-style” herbs including rosemary, basil and oregano. I have all of these growing in my garden, but only fresh rosemary is pungent enough to flavor the herb croutons. And so I used dried basil and oregano leaves.
To make the herb croutons, cut the French bread into small cubes. Make a mash of the rosemary, oregano, basil, fresh garlic and salt (optional). Mix in olive oil. Toss with the French bread and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast the French bread in a hot oven for about 10 minutes (or less). Remove from the oven when the croutons are browned.
Just before serving, finish the salad. Combine the marinated cherry tomatoes with the toasted French bread croutons and add in mozzarella cheese (either shredded or fresh mozzarella balls). I served the salad on some torn lettuce leaves and doused on a little more balsamic vinegar.
This recipe easily serves six people; the quantities can be reduced for fewer people. Of course, you can also increase or decrease the volume of croutons used in this “bread salad” depending on how much you like croutons. Well, I love croutons and included alot in my salad.
This is a great way to use all those cherry tomatoes growing in your garden. And if you are new to gardening, growing cherry tomatoes is a good way to start. Guaranteed success!
Marinated Cherry Tomatoes and Herb Croutons
- 2 cups (1 pint) assorted cherry and grape tomatoes
- 4 green onions, sliced, whites and parts of green tops
- 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice or 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar; with more vinegar to drizzle on at the table
- 4 garlic loaves, mashed
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
- 1 tsp dried basil leaves
- 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
- 4 cups (1/2 loaf) loosely packed bread cubes from French bread
- 1 cup (8 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese or mozzarella cheese balls
- fresh basil leaves, for garnish, optional
- torn lettuce leaves, optional
Method and Steps:
- Pre-heat oven o 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Slice cherry and grape tomatoes in halves and add to large-sized bowl.
- Add green onions, 2 Tbsp olive oil, lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and toss to combine. Cover and set in refrigerator to chill while preparing the croutons.
- In small bowl, combine mashed garlic cloves, minced fresh rosemary, oregano, basil and salt (optional). Add remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil.
- Place bread cubes in large bowl. Sprinkle herb/garlic/olive oil mixture over the top and gently toss to combine to coat with the mixture.
- Transfer the bread cubes to foil lined baking sheet in single layer.
- Toast in 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until browned.
- When ready to serve, combine marinated tomatoes with the herb croutons and gently toss.
- Add shredded mozzarella cheese (or mozzarella cheese balls) around edge of bowl.
- Douse on additional balsamic vinegar, if desired.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves, optional, and torn lettuce leaves.
NOTE: Quantities of cherry tomatoes and French bread croutons may be increased or decreased according to individual preference or number of servings.