I remember when I first started gardening and I had the bright idea that direct-seeding tomatoes in the ground was the best idea. The plants were incredible and strong and the perfume they exuded made me want to bottle it. Have you ever rubbed a tomato plant just to smell? It’s worth it. The yields were nothing to be proud of but I had nearly a hundred plants so there were plenty of tomatoes, even with my poor gardening skills. The memory of that summer and just too darned many tomatoes makes me very happy.
- 1 pound heirloom tomatoes, gently chopped into cubes
- 1–2 cups cooked Rancho Gordo Royal Corona, or other large white beans, drained
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Rancho Gordo Pineapple Vinegar
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 2 slices country bread, hand ripped into bite-sized pieces (crusts optional, but I like them)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme, basil, or parsley
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- In a serving bowl, combine the tomatoes, beans, garlic, vinegar, 3 tablespoons of the oil, and the salt and pepper. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
- As the tomatoes rest, toss the bread with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and spread out the bread on a flat tray or cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, checking and shaking the pan every 5 minutes or so, until the croutons are well toasted.
- About 10 minutes before serving, add the bread to the tomato salad. (Some people like the bread dense and soggy, but I recommend about 10 minutes. The bread is soft but still has some bite to it.) Scatter fresh herbs over the top and serve.