Panzanella is one of my favorite salads, (nearly bordering on obsession). To me, it just tastes like summer! Panzanella is a bread salad that originated in Florence, Italy and is typically made with stale bread—it was basically a way to use up the bread and tomatoes before they went to waste. I can’t think of a more delicious way to eat down the pantry.
One of my favorite panzanella recipes is Ina Garten’s Greek Panzanella, (which I’ve made at least a dozen times), but I’ve modified the recipe to use my CSA ingredients (as well as cut down on the oil). The toasted bread is nice and crispy but also soaks up the vinaigrette dressing. The vegetables give the salad its crunch, and the tomatoes are perfectly ripe and sweet. (I used my CSA Juliet tomatoes, which are a little larger than grape tomatoes but not as big as Roma tomatoes.) The blend of flavors combined with the tartness of the capers and vinaigrette is just perfection when mixed together.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small ciabatta loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes (3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Olive oil cooking spray
12 grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 shallot, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons capers, drained
4 ounces fresh perline mozzarella cheese, packed in water
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, until lightly browned. (If more oil is needed, spray the bread with olive oil cooking spray.)
For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, yellow pepper, shallot, basil, dill, capers, and mozzarella. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Check for seasonings. Let the salad to sit for about 1/2 hour for the flavors to blend before serving.
Serving size: about 1 cup