Classic Panzanella

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Okay, I have to brag for a moment. I grew these!!!!!!! :)

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Okay, I did begin with starter plants…remember these guys?

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I watered them and loved them and talked to them everyday…and now I’m rewarded with these stunning beauties! I’m a proud plant mama for sure! (Big shout out to the hubby for watering too!) After harvesting my ripe tomatoes came the big debate about what to do with them. I have waited months for the big ones to be ready and I didn’t want to waste them on a sub-par recipe. Salsa was in the running as was homemade tomato soup, but panzanella seemed to be the only true option. Panzanella is a perfect summertime dish because it allows a few seasonal ingredients to shine. Exactly what you want when you have tomatoes that taste so incredibly pure. 

Tomato + mozzarella + fresh basil + baguette + vinegar/oil = SUMMER! :)

Brief update on my basil plants: I started off with 12 starter plans this year and was concerned I wouldn’t be able to use it all. Four batches of pesto and countless dishes later I have exhausted the resources of the 12 plants and today planted six more. I am hoping this will last me through the rest of the summer growing season. Please send help. 

Panzanella is a perfect summertime dinner with a glass of wine and grilled chicken, but its also great lunchbox dish! No heating required and tastes even better the second day! 

Ingredients

  • 5-6 medium tomatoes, diced (you could also use grape tomatoes)
  • 1 container (~ 8 oz.) fresh mozzarella, diced
  • 1 crusty baguette, preferably day after or stale bread, diced (I used about 3/4 of it)
  • 1 bunch basil (15-20 leaves), thinly sliced
  • balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar, to taste (I used 2-3 tbsp.)
  • olive oil, to taste (I used ~ 1/4 c.)
  • salt/pepper, to taste

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Dice the tomatoes into bite size pieces and place in a large bowl. Season tomatoes lightly with salt/pepper and stir to coat. Fresh tomatoes will soak up the salt and release even more bright flavor.

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Dice the fresh mozzarella and add to the tomatoes in the bowl. Drizzle with vinegar and oil then stir to combine.

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Dice the baguette into bite size pieces and add to bowl. My bowl could only hold 3/4 of the baguette; use as much as your bowl allows.

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Add thinly sliced basil and stir. Season with additional oil, vinegar, or salt/pepper, if needed. The olive oil should coat all ingredients but not pool at the bottom; add a tablespoon at a time until everything is coated. That’s it! Allow the bowl of panzanella to sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour for the flavors to combine; the bread will begin to soak up the tomato juice and the dressing.

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We used the wait time to enjoy a glass of wine and an appetizer of melon/prosciutto. Could this appetizer be any simpler? Or is it more simple? Anyway, wrap thin slices of prosciutto around pieces of melon and arrange on a pretty platter. Super easy and beautiful! 

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Serve the panzanella on its own or with grilled shrimp, chicken, fish, or anything else you like! Enjoy! 

 

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