There’s still time – tomato season isn’t over yet! This is a perfect end of summer salad. It combines some of our favorite seasonal ingredients, tomato, cucumber, and basil, with year-round essentials, namely cheese (mozzarella) and bread. On self-respecting nights, when we manage not to finish off a whole baguette, we let a portion go stale and make this delicious Tuscan bread salad the next evening for dinner. Traditional panzanella calls for stale bread, uber ripe tomatoes, a dressing of olive oil and red wine vinegar, and sometimes onions and basil. This oomph-ed up version comes from our favorite lady Melissa Clark. The cucumber adds freshness and crunch and the mozzarella makes it a heartier salad, worthy of eating as a main meal instead of a side. Make sure to enjoy this salad before summer is officially over!
- 1/3 of a baguette or rustic loaf (preferably stale) cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6 TBS olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tomatoes, use a mix of varieties and colors!
- 6 oz mozzarella, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
- 2 shallots (or 1/2 red onion) thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, grated to a paste
- 2 TBS red wine vinegar
- 1 TBS chopped fresh oregano or thyme (or a combination)
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup Persian or English cucumber, cut into thin quarter pieces
- 1/2 cup torn basil
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
- 1 TBS of capers, drained
- Heat oven to 425ºF. Spread bread pieces onto a baking sheet and toss with 2 TBS olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Bake until golden brown and dried out, about 7-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
- Cut tomatoes into pieces just a bit smaller than the bread cubes. Put them into a large bowl and then thinly slice the shallots lengthwise.
- Add the shallots into the bowl and use a microplane to grate 2 cloves of garlic into a paste. Along with the garlic paste, add 1 TBS vinegar, oregano or thyme, 1/4 tsp salt, and red pepper flakes.
- Cut up the mozzarella into bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl, toss everything together and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine 1 TBS vinegar, mustard, 1/2 tsp salt, and black pepper. While continuously whisking, add 4 TBS olive oil one-by-one to the dressing. Stir in cucumbers, basil, and parsley.
- Add bread pieces, dressing, and capers to the large bowl and mix well. Let it sit and soak for at least 30 minutes, up to 6 hours. You can keep chilled in the fridge. Add extra oil, vinegar or salt if needed!
Notes: Serves 3-4 as a main meal, 6 as a side.