When local heirloom and vine ripened tomatoes start to show up in the grocery store and farmer's markets, it is a sign that Summer coming up quickly. I stumbled across this year's debut last week while I was looking for ideas of what to make for an upcoming party. When I saw them and inhaled the aroma indicating the fact that they were truly vine ripened tomatoes, I knew that a panzanella salad was going to be on the menu. There is just something immensely satisfying about croutons of crusty bread that have soaked up the sweet and tangy juices of tomatoes combined with fruity olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. Even though I personally don't eat gluten any longer, I can still appreciate how good it is and want to share this dish with others.
Italians are the masters of elegant simplicity in the kitchen. Their use of high quality basic ingredients in sometimes obvious combinations create magical and memorable dishes. Tasting them in their naturalness further proves why it is best to use seasonal and organic ingredients.
Fresh tomatoes from the garden in the summertime are a favorite treat for people all over the world. Even if you don’t have any growing in your garden, this is really the only time of the year that they taste as they should and they are so good. A great way to enjoy the best tomatoes of the season is in this simple to prepare salad.
|Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Panzanella|
|Serves 6-8 as a side dish or salad.|
|For all of the ingredients, please use only those that are organic or pesticide free.|
|6 large||tomatoes, large or cherry, cut in halves or chunks|
|(heirloom varieties or vine ripened)|
|12 leaves||fresh basil, chiffonade|
|(leaves layered and rolled together like cigars then cut into thin ribbons)|
|1/2-whole||French or sourdough baguette of bread, cut into chunks or torn|
|2 tablespoons||olive oil|
|1 teaspoon||balsamic vinegar, preferably aged|
|8 ounces||fresh mozzarella ciliegine (optional)|
|2 teaspoons||capers, drained|
|finishing salt such as fleur de sel or maldon|
|freshly ground black pepper|
|Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.|
|Combine the tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the basil and stir. This can be prepared 2-3 hours ahead of time.|
|Put the prepared bread on a baking pan and lightly toast in the oven for about 5-8 minutes.|
|Carefully remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool.|
|When you are ready to serve, mix the toasted bread cubes with the marinated tomato mixture. Do not mix everything together until you are ready to serve or the bread will get soggy.|