Seasoned Shopper – July 2023


Bread and Tomatoes?

    There are two special items available simultaneously at the Orinda Farmers’ Market ready to make one of my favorite salads. Rustic bread and vine-ripened tomatoes combine to make a delectable summer Panzanella salad and here’s where to find what you need.
    Melo Bread joined the market more than a year ago to sell a variety of organic, slow fermented sourdough loaves made mainly with wheat flour, reverse osmosis water and Himalayan pink salt. Whole Wheat, Farmer’s Rye and Ancient Grain are top of the list for my salad, but Cinnamon Raisin and Cinnamon Buns are breakfast staples served with a fresh harvest peach or a bowl of sliced strawberries.
    Several stands sell vine-ripened tomatoes and any variety will work well with a Panzanella Salad, but be sure they are not overripe. Early Girls are a wonderful all-purpose tomato and Brandywine are most commonly thought to be the best tasting with the perfect balance of sugar and acidity. Other heirloom varieties, including Purple Cherokee and Marvel Stripe, are possibilities. Choose tomatoes which are heavy for their size and very aromatic where the stem was attached.

Panzanella Salad
    Feel free to add sliced cucumber or red pepper, a spoonful of capers or fresh baby mozzarella.
    6 cups rustic bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
    ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
    2 large tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
    3 tablespoons white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
    1 garlic clove, minced
    3 tablespoons minced shallots
    ½ teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1/3 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped

    Heat ¼ cup of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bread and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring frequently until bread is golden brown.
    Place tomatoes in a colander over a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Allow a few minutes for the tomatoes to release their juices into the bowl. Move the colander with the tomatoes to the sink and use the bowl with the juice to make the dressing. Whisk vinegar, ¼ cup of oil, garlic, shallots, salt and pepper with the tomato juice. Add tomatoes and bread. Toss together gently then top with basil. Serve immediately or allow flavors to blend for up to 20 minutes. Serves 6.
    The Orinda Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Orinda Way in Orinda Village. Visit,, Instagram at OrindaFarmersMarket or call 925.322.6228.

Barbara Kobsar can be reached at

(Barbara Kobsar, Photographer)
Kay Frank offers baked loaves of Melo Bread, made fresh every Saturday morning by her son Kevin Grenz in his San Francisco kitchen.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.