Monday, August 10, 2009

Panzanella


August and September are the time to celebrate tomatoes. And this is one of my favorite ways to do that.

A deconstructed sandwich. A caprese salad with chunks of bread added. Bread salad. All of these are useful ways to describe panzanella. This is best made with slightly stale bread, the freshest tomatoes (nothing from the grocery store will do), and lots of basil. The cheese can vary, but my favorite is fresh mozzarella.

First, chop the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks and salt them. Let that sit for a while so that the juices of the tomatoes run out a bit. You'll want all that flavorful liquid in the salad, though, so don't throw it away.

If your bread isn't stale, cut it into chunk and let it sit out in the air until it's somewhat dried out (this is easy in Utah).

Meanwhile, prepare your favorite vinaigrette. Mine is 2 parts olive oil, one part decent vinegar. For this, a red wine vinegar is okay (or champagne vinegar), but not balsamic. I think it ruins the color.

When the tomatoes have released some liquid, the bread is stale enough, toss these together with bite-sized chunks of fresh mozzarella (or a roughly shredded not-too-soft cheese like Fontina), and vinaigrette. Don't be stingy with the vinaigrette—this is supposed to be kind of soggy.

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