One of my favorite summer dishes is Panzanella, an Italian tomato salad that includes bread, fresh mozzarella cheese and really any variety of summer veggies you want. This is my summer staple for hot summer nights.
This week, I couldn't resist a pint of multi-colored cherry tomatoes that were at the Belmont Farmers' Market. They were so sweet, I'm actually kind of surprised there were any left for the salad by the time dinner came around. Good thing Picky Eater doesn't like fresh tomatoes (practically a sin!) more for me. I also managed to snag the last ball of fresh mozzarella from the cheese vendor getting ready to pack up his bay for the day...and the last baguette from the baker. Talk about timing. Panzanella was in the stars.
Panzanella is great because it's so versatile. It's been called "leftover salad" and for good measure. Got a piece of red onion in the fridge? Chop it up and throw it in the bowl. Cucumber? Sure, why not. Celery, bell peppers, boiled eggs, garlic, onion, tuna, chicken, lettuce and carrots are just a few on a long list of summer favorites that can find themselves tossed in Panzanella.
This time around, I wasn't in the mood for anything crazy. No bite of vinegar, no garlic or onion breath either. Just a simple salad infused with the flavors of basil and olive oil.
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large ball fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
1 small baguette, cubed
5-10 fresh basil leaves, torn
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium size bowl, combine all ingredients and toss until coated with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, toss salad and add additional oil or salt and pepper to taste, if desired.