It’s summer time! Well, I guess technically the first day of summer is June 21st, but surely I am not alone in thinking that summer is the very first minute after your last exam in school. However you want to look at it, school is out and the blog is back. Even during school, I was thinking about everything I want to make this summer, and, in case you have not noticed, I redesigned the blog. When I was thinking about potential recipes, I knew I wanted panzanella to be my first post. Panzanella is a Florentine salad that centers around tomatoes and bread. What could be better a better way to start summer?
The key to Panzanella is to use the freshest ingredients, except for the bread. This is the perfect opportunity to use your day-old bread. Other than that, I suggest going to your local farmer’s market or grocery store and picking the best looking tomatoes and veggies. Originally, I was going to buy two big tomatoes, but then I found baby heirloom tomatoes … I couldn’t resist! They were the perfect bite size when cut in half. In the salad, I used pink peppercorn salt I recently bought from one of my latest foodie addictions. But this salad doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, the simpler the better. Let the ingredients shine and enjoy!
Panzanella, serves 12
- 1 small loaf or boule of crusty day-old French bread, cut into 1 in. cubes (6 cups)
- 1 lb baby heirloom tomatoes, cut in half (or 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 in. cubes)
- 1 hothouse cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and sliced 1/2 in. thick
- 2 bell peppers (I used red & yellow), seeded and cut into 1 in. cubes
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- Bunch of basil, julienned
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and season with salt and pepper. Cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. I put the bread on a baking sheet and threw it in the oven at 300 degrees for another 10 minutes, just to get them evenly toasted. Meanwhile, in small bowl, add the vinegar, red onion, and garlic. Let sit while the bread toasts, so the onion is pickled. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, basil, and capers. Later toss in the red onion and vinegar. Just before serving, add the bread cubes (you want them to absorb the flavors, but not get too soggy). Drizzle with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.