Panzanella Salad

Panzanella (Italian bread and tomato) Salad

In my efforts to finally learn to bake bread (other than using a bread machine) I made two loaves of French bread the other day. We ate a half loaf at dinner that night, but there I was with a loaf and a half…what to do?

The lightbulb went off in my head…I had some leftover mozzarella from the Caprese salad I’d made the day before, as well as some very ripe tomatoes. Panzanella Salad was the perfect recipe, especially since this rustic Tuscan salad was originally devised to use up stale bread.

Ingredients:

  • A loaf and a half (approx. 6 cups) stale French or Italian bread, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (some recipes call for extra virgin, but I like something that has body to it)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lb (approx 4) ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 2 small red onions, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-size pieces
  • a handful of fresh basil, hand torn into small pieces
  • s & p

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the 1/3 cup olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic.

Add the bread to the bowl, and toss to coat.

Spread the bread on a baking sheet, and bake about 5 to 10 minutes.

Whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Remove bread from oven, and allow to cool slightly.

Toss together the bread, tomatoes, onions, basil, and mozzarella cheese.

Pour on the oil and vinegar mix and let stand for 20 minutes before serving.

Prepare for rave reviews! [The Husband asked for more.]

If you have any leftover, serve it again the next day with the addition of more fresh tomato chunks, a sliced up avocado, and a little more balsamic vinaigrette.

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