The latest from my garden:  tomatoes are still a few weeks off – while I finally have the first blossom on my tumbling toms, my other varieties are still growing and haven’t quite blossomed, yet.  For the last three weeks, we’ve had plenty of rain – the perfect kind of rain for the garden (light and steady), but it’s been a bit cool, as well, so while everything is growing, it doesn’t seem to be ready to produce. 

But, at least local greenhouses are making up for my slow-poke garden.  We had friends over for dinner last night, so I thought I’d make one of my favorite salads for a starter.  If you’re looking for summer in a bowl – especially summer on the Med – then this is it!  Tomatoes, basil, capers, olives, roasted red peppers … all tossed with some stale country bread.  Because this isn’t just a delicious summer salad, it’s also a great way to use up bread that’s a bit past it’s prime!

For me, the salad tastes best if you give it at least an hour for the flavors to marry and for the bread to absorb some of the juiciness.

Panzanella

  • 2 lbs tomatoes (try to mix them up – cherry, plum, beefsteak – and use different colors if they’re available), halved or chopped, depending on the size
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced
  • 1/4 cup capers, mixed
  • 1 cup olives, pitted and halved
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup basil (packed whole), sliced into ribbons
  • 2 1″ slices of  stale sour dough or country bread, cut into 1′ cubes – the bread has to be stale – if it’s fresh, it’s just going to get mushy and break apart
  • olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 and spread the bread cubes on a cookie sheet, then toast for 20 minutes or so until dry.  While the bread is toasting, place the tomatoes, olives, capers, roasted red peppers and onion in a salad bowl and toss to thoroughly combine.  While the bread is still warm from the oven, add it to the salad and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, then toss well, add freshly ground pepper, then taste for seasoning.  With the capers and olives, you probably won’t need salt, so make sure you taste first before adding any.  As I said above, I like to make this at least an hour before serving, tossing every 20 minutes or so, checking to see if it needs a little more oil and vinegar – you don’t want a dry salad!

Advertisements