blissful eats with Tina Jeffers: summer panzanella
This is a time of year that is bittersweet for me. The garden is at its peak but I know that in a few weeks time I will be putting it to rest until the spring. I can feel the crispness in the air when I wake up in the morning but I’m not quite ready to completely say goodbye to summer.
Here is my favorite space in my house, the garden. It’s been a labor of love and a lot of hard work. Every year presents new successes and new struggles but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
This is a dish that is a great way to use up all those beautiful tomatoes that are crowding the market right now. Crunchy croutons, juicy tomatoes and fragrant basil combined with creamy mozzarella make for the perfect side dish or light lunch. Add A little roasted chicken or grilled shrimp for a more substantial meal. Try to use as many different kinds of tomatoes that you can find and cut them into different shapes and sizes. You can make endless variations of this salad, play with what you have on hand, cucumbers, roasted peppers, olives and capers would all make great additions.
For the panzanella:
- 1 loaf French bread cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound assorted heirloom tomatoes
- ½ red onion thinly sliced
- ½ pound fresh mozzarella cut into small pieces
- handful of basil leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
For the basil vinaigrette:
- ½ cup basil leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the bread with the 2 tablespoons olive oil on a sheet pan and bake until the bread is golden and crisp about 15 minutes. Cut the tomatoes into wedges of different sizes and place in a bowl with the bread, red onion, mozzarella and basil. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the top and toss gently to combine. Let sit for a few minutes to let the flavors develop.