Okay, I have to brag for a moment. I grew these!!!!!!!
Okay, I did begin with starter plants…remember these guys?
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!
- 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
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.
Dice the fresh mozzarella and add to the tomatoes in the bowl. Drizzle with vinegar and oil then stir to combine.
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.
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.
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!
Serve the panzanella on its own or with grilled shrimp, chicken, fish, or anything else you like! Enjoy!