From Childhood friend Cathy.
This is the second of the salads we enjoyed at the Sharpe's house earlier this month. Panzanella is a refreshing Italian bread salad best prepared when tomatoes are at their juiciest in the summer. We were on a "salads-for-supper" kick one evening and this tasty salad was one of our stars of the show.
There's very little cooking required here; prepare your croutons before beginning and you'll be well on your way. We used part of a loaf of crusty French bread for croutons and very ripe Roma tomatoes that were begging to be used. Don't forget the basil and the Mozzarella as they add both flavor and creaminess here.
For best results, make this salad an hour or so before you sit down to the table and serve it at room temperature. Whether eaten as a main dish or a simple side with grilled meat, this one is sure to please everyone at your table.
1/2 loaf (8 oz.) rustic bread such as a French loaf
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
4 ripe tomatoes, diced
2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 red or green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, sliced
10 leaves fresh basil, snipped into small pieces
1-1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese, diced or shredded
Directions: Heat oven to 350. Cut or tear the bread into 1-inch pieces and spread on a baking sheet. Bake until it is dry and slightly crisp (think croutons), about 8 minutes; remove from oven and set aside. In medium bowl, whisk vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic; set aside. In large serving bowl, toss the bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, onion, basil and the mozzarella. Add dressing and mix well. Allow salad to sit before serving, room temperature is fine.
Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved
off the dessert cart. (Erma Bombeck)
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