So this blog you’re reading has been sorely neglected. I know it’s just terrible, but I do have a good excuse. Would you like to hear it? Here goes, three months ago this adorable little creature on the right joined us and has been keeping me just a little bit busy. He’s still leaving us all a little tattered around the edges, but getting better every day. So that’s my first major excuse, but wait, I have another! I’ve also spent the last few months getting ready for a big move. After a year and a half in the San Francisco Bay Area we’re on our way back to San Diego. It’s a shame that now I can parallel park blindfolded, all that talent will be lost on the vast expanse of open parking in San Diego. While both places certainly have their merits, the food the Bay Area will be hard to part with and so many vegan delights: Souley Vegan, Flacos, Scream Sorbet! Okay, this is making me hungry, but it’s been an absolute delight eating here the past year and a half… Oakland, you will be missed!
In exchange for my negligence on the blog front, I offer you this, a wonderful summertime salad recipe that is a must have for your summer salad repertoire. A true classic that you’ll make again and again. It’s all the better if you happen to grow your own tomatoes. I don’t, but maybe you do. I spent years trying to grow my own, only to fall victim to furry little neighborhood tomato pilferers again and again. So now I leave it to the experts and save myself the stress of trying to outwit those rascally tomato bandits. So yeah, you need really great tomatoes to make this recipe sing. I think the most flavorful are heirloom varieties. You can find them for a reasonable price at your local farmer’s market or Trader Joe’s.
Just a few notes to make making this salad a little more enjoyable. First off, when toasting the bread make sure it’s lightly browned — very lightly browned. We’re not making croutons here! Secondly, know that this is a salad that does not keep well. It’s best served immediately, it becomes totally soggy the next day. I’ve been known to eat some soggy Panzanella, but I don’t recommend it. If you don’t have enough folks on hand to finish a batch, just half the recipe. That way you don’t even have to fire up the oven to toast the bread, just get the job done in your toaster oven. Enjoy the rest of your summer and make this salad!!
Italian Bread Salad (Panzanella)
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Makes four servings
- 6 cups rustic Italian or French bread, cut or torn into 1-in. pieces (1/2 to 1 lb.)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
- 1 shallot, sliced thin
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 can (15 oz.) white beans, drained and rinsed
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400°F. Toss bread pieces with 2 tbsp. oil and 1/4 tsp. salt; arrange bread in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Toast bread pieces until just starting to turn light golden, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Gently toss tomatoes and 1/2 tsp. salt in large bowl. Transfer to colander and set over bowl; set aside to drain for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally.
- Whisk remaining 6 tbsp. olive oil, vinegar, and 1/4 tsp. pepper into strained tomato juice. Add bread pieces, toss, and let stand for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.
- Add tomatoes, cucumber, shallot, beans and basil to bowl with bread pieces and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.