Fresh Summer Panzanella
adapted from Smitten Kitchen which was adapted from Ina Garten http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/09/summers-last-hurrah-panzanella/
I can't believe I never tried Panzanella before! It is so delicious. The combination of melt in your mouth croutons, crunchy and bright vegetables, and a tangy vinaigrette was perfect. It's also very quick and easy. I made it in about 15 minutes after an 11 hour shift. I even took it for left overs the next day. The croutons were soggy by then, but it was still delicious.
Lighter more refined Olive Oil
3 Cups of cubed Bread ( I used about 1/2 of a stale loaf of Seeded Multigrain Petit Pain by Ace Bakery)
Salt to taste
A handful of cherry tomatoes
1/2 cucumber, unpeeled and sliced 2 cm thick
1 pepper, seeded and cut into 2 cm chunks ( any color will do)
A few thin slices of red onion
10 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped - do not replace with dried.
1 small clove minced garlic
1.5 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper
Recommended, but I didn't use: 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard as emulsifier
1. Heat the light olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. I use light olive oil whenever I'm heating it because Extra Virgin Olive Oil as a low smoking point and quickly turns to trans fat ( bad fat). The refined lighter oils have a much higher smoking point.
2. Add the bread cubes and stir frequently to ensure all sides of the bread get crispy and golden brown. I added a splash of olive oil a couple of times while cooking.
3. Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Dijon keeps the dressing from separating into oil and vinegar, but I personally don't like the flavour, so add if you like.
4. Put all vegetables, basil, and bread in a bowl. Coat with vinaigrette. Let sit for at least 20 minutes before serving.
Warning: this is one of those dishes that will leave you with stinky onion and garlic breath, but it's worth it!