Growing up I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my grandpa as his “sous” chef. He taught me so much about cooking. He had a passion for it and he passed on to me.
Panzanella is one dish that he often made in the summer. My grandparents never threw out leftover bread. They hated to waste. If worse came to worse they would even feed it to the birds.
This salad puts that day-old bread to good use. Also, quality is key in a simple salad like this. A good extra virgin olive oil is a must. And make sure your tomatoes are ripe.
(Serves 8-10 people)
1 Small loaf of Italian Bread torn in 1 inch pieces (about 4 Cups)
2 Large Heirloom Tomatoes cut 3/4 inch pieces (about 2 lbs.)
2 lbs. fresh mozzarella cut 3/4 inch pieces
¼ Red onion (about 3 oz) sliced thinly
10 Basil Leaves Chopped
3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¾ tsp Garlic Powder
1 ½ tsp Salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Place the bread in a large bowl and drizzle on ¼ cups of olive oil. Then sprinkle the bread with ½ tsp salt. Put in the oven on a parchment lined baking sheet. Toast until the breadcubes are crispy like croutons (about 20 to 25 minutes).
Keep a close eye on the bread so that it doesn’t burn. Once the bread is cooked, remove from the oven and cool.
Put the tomatoes, mozzarella, red onion and basil in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Add in the red of the olive oil and toss. Next add in the bread and gently toss. Serve immediately.