Friday, July 24, 2009

You must make bread salad!

I hadn't planned to do this tonight, but once again, I surprised myself.

We made panzanella, otherwise known as Italian Bread Salad tonight for a light dinner. I should have made more. The photo is skimpy because I didn't realize until I had eaten almost all of my bowl that I was going to have to write about it tonight, and I thought I should catch a picture before I finished the whole thing. Trust me, this is summer goodness, and you will make it at least once a week.

There are no real measurements, you'll have to eyeball and adjust to your own taste:

Tear apart some day old bread (French works best, a decently dense one and tearing is so much better than cubing) and toss with some olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and toast in a 375F oven for about 10 minutes. While the bread toasts, cut approximately 4 garlic cloves in half or large slivers and place in medium/large bowl (you'll toss the whole salad in this bowl). When bread is ready, toss hot bread shards into bowl with garlic and mix well. Add Heirloom tomatoes cut into large 1" dice, balsamic vinegar and olive oil (I started with 3 tablespoons balsamic and about 1/4 c. olive oil, then later added more balsamic to taste). Mix well, and let sit about 10 minutes, until bread is soft but still has a little crunch. Don't be scared, it might look a little muddy due to the balsamic (okay, you can use red wine vinegar if you prefer, but I do not). While it sits, cut some seedless cucumber into 1/2" chunks (Japanese or those little pickling cukes are good for crunch) and very thinly slice a little red onion. Toss into the bowl along with a little basil chiffonade, then season to taste with salt, pepper and additional vinegar if desired. Remove and discard the raw garlic (unless you like it). I threw in a few Kalamata olives I had leftover from a Nicoise last night, and there you have it, Heirloom Tomato Bread Salad.

In the summer, don't bother to make it unless you have the Heirlooms. You can get them at Whole Foods right now for $2.99/lb (CHEAP!) or from your local farmers market.

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