taste of summer: panzanella
Tomato season is probably my favorite time of year! Sweet, acidic, juicy tomatoes add flavor and depth to any simple dish and you’re suddenly reminded that the tomatoes you ate in February and March served only as decor.
California, specifically the Bay Area, like’s to keep tomatoes fancy. “What do you mean this isn’t an organic heirloom picked by Farmer Thaddeus?” probably comes out of more mouths than it should, but it does keep us focused on supporting local farms. And supporting small farms keeps varietals surviving and thriving. Last time I was at the farmer’s market, there were some obscenely juicy yellow heirlooms that were set on leaving with me. Since they were on the brink of ripeness, I thought I should capitalize on the juice and capture it panzanella!
Panzanella is a bread salad...probably one of Oprah’s favorite salads because it’s loaded with toasted chunks of bread! The toasted bread (I like to use a hearty one) can stand it’s own with the tomatoes, cucumbers, and delicious vinaigrette. In fact, it soaks up all of the goodness but does not get too soggy.
This recipe is super simple, great for a crowd (or a very hungry pair), and will make any tomato-bread lover swoon! It’s a nice change of pace from the regular caprese salad or bruschetta and will soon become a late summer staple. Buon Appetito!
• • •
4 thick 1-inch slices of bread, sliced into 1 inch cubes *
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 medium sized clove of garlic, grated
½ teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Red pepper flakes to taste
2 large heirloom tomatoes
½ cup of basil, chiffonade
¼ cup parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons of mint, chopped
Optional: ½ cup Parmesan, ¾ cup mozzarella, or favorite cheese.
Baking Sheet, Small bowl, Large Bowl, Chef’s Knife
25 minutes (+ 1 hour to sit before serving)
- Preheat the oven to 425F. On a baking sheet, pour 2T of Olive oil over the bread. Toss bread to lightly coat all sides. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 8-12 minutes, flipping once in between.**
- Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl.
- Cut tomatoes into ½- 1 inch pieces and place in bowl. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt^^. Cut cucumber in half lengthwise and remove seeds using a spoon. Cut the cucumber half once more in half. And slice ½ inch pieces.
- Add croutons.*^* Mix. Pour dressing over salad. Add fresh herbs.
- Marinate the for minimum of 30 minutes and up to 3 hours! Garnish with more fresh herbs, parmesan, cracked black pepper. Enjoy that taste of summer tomatoes and rich bread.
* stale bread works best!
** if bread is very fresh, it will take longer to get the moisture out. It’s important to flip or toss the bread to get all the moisture out.
^^ Reduces the acidity of the the tomatoes.
*^* if you want to add cheese, add it here.