Even though it’s January, the weather has been quite summery here lately. One of our favorite things to eat when it’s warm out is panzanella. This “recipe” can be modified as much as you’d like. I don’t usually measure when I make this, so you can adjust the amounts to taste. You can also add cucumbers, olives, or anything else that sounds good to the salad.
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 loaf of baguette
1 lb. tomatoes, I used mini heirlooms from Trader Joe’s
10 basil leaves, chopped or ripped
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, or as much as you like
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
Parmesan or Romano cheese
1. First make the dressing. Mix 2 parts olive oil with 1 part vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Add a bit of mustard or dry mustard if you’d like.
2. Toast the bread. Slice the baguette into 3/4 inch slices. You can drizzle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, or you can leave them plain. If you like extra garlic, cut a clove of garlic in half, then rub it along the slices of bread before baking. Bake at 425 degrees F for a few minutes, until lightly toasted. Cut the bread into cubes. (OR, you can get really crazy like I did, and smear a little bit of this garlic crack spread that they sell at the farmer’s market on the bread before toasting, for extra garlic flavor.)
3. While the bread is toasting, slice your tomatoes into a size that works for you. I usually use cherry tomatoes and slice them in half. Slice the mozzarella balls into bite-size pieces. Toss the tomatoes, mozzarella, and red onion with the dressing.
Look how cute the “mini heirlooms” are!
4. Add the bread, a sprinkle of parmesan, the basil, salt, and pepper to the salad.
Serve immediately, before the bread gets soggy.