Monday, October 12, 2015

Panzanella - A Farewell to Summer

Call it stubbornness, but the idea of a salad of bread just never appealed to me. Little did I know how amazing the combo of toasted bread, fresh garden tomatoes and a tasty selection of other mix-ins could be!

With our own garden and farm tomatoes still going strong, I wanted to find a light meal to celebrate the last of our summer produce. I was also looking for something quick and different. It didn't take much time on Pinterest to find the most gorgeous examples of Panzanella. But, I was still not sure it would be my "thing".

Sweet little grape tomatoes sliced in half,  Mozzarella pearls tossed with a good balsamic and tender basil leaves enticed me to put away my skepticism. My version here combines all my favorites of Caprese salad.

Of course, the bread had me worried.

I grabbed a crusty Italian loaf and toasted them with a little butter in my cast iron skillet. This is a great way to use up a stale loaf or extra bread. Definitely make the effort to grab a loaf you enjoy. I also love to make this with a hearty sourdough loaf.

Okay, I was feeling better about the dish. Toasted bread just makes the kitchen smell so warm and inviting.

Then it was time to bring it all together, toss it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar... then garnish with tender basil leaves. I took the whole bowl out to entice my husband inside for dinner. It was a feast for the eyes.

Andrea's Panzanella

You Will Need:

  • 1 loaf of Italian or Sourdough bread, cubed
  • 1 Tbsp. butter for toasting
  • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup or more Mozzarella pearls
  • 1/2 cup tender basil leaves (whole, chiffonade)
  • 1/4 c. olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 2 Tbsp. good balsamic vinegar + more to taste
  • Fleur de Sel or Kosher salt to taste

Toast the cubed bread with butter in a large cast iron skillet. Turn to prevent burning. Set the bread aside in a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, Mozzarella and basil. Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Add this to the bread immediately before serving. Toss gently and drizzle with additional olive oil and balsamic as needed. Season the salad with Fleur de Sel to taste.

Serve immediately. Enjoy!

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