Panzanella revisited (this time with cheese)

A while back, my friends Jen and Ryan introduced me to Panzenella, a salad made with stale bread. Although it is best made when tomatoes are in season, I spotted some nice heirloom tomatoes at Wegmans a few weeks back and decided to pair them up with the stale rolls I had piling up in my freezer.

As is par for the course with me, I realized about halfway through toasting the bread that crusty bread works much better for this recipe. I used sesame hamburger rolls from Wegmans which crumbled a bit more than I would have liked, but all in all, the recipe turned out delicious. The way the rolls soak up the dressing and tomato juice will make you see bread in a whole new light.

This recipe for Caprese Panzanella is worth giving a try this summer. You will need:

  • Stale bread, cubed (as we learned, crusty artisan types are best)
  • 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 cup of yellow cherry tomatoes (I used a yellow heirloom tomato)
  • ½ pound of fresh mozzarella, cubed (I used the bocconcini size)
  • 1 cup of basil leaves
  • Additional salt and pepper to flavor

For the vinaigrette, you will need:

  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar (I used regular balsamic)
  • ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon finely minced garlic (I used at least double that)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper to taste

Heat two to three tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan and warm over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and salt and toss. Stir frequently for about ten minutes, drizzling in a bit more of the remainder of the olive oil as the pan dries out, until the cubes are well toasted. Remove the bread from the heat and let it cool.

Seed and dice the tomatoes. Cut the yellow cherry tomatoes in half. Put the tomatoes in a large mixing bowl. Give the basil a rough chop and add it to the bowl. Drain and dice the mozzarella and add that to the bowl. Add the cubed bread.

Whisk the vinaigrette in a small bowl. Pour over the bread, tomatoes, basil and cheese and toss well until everything is evenly coated. Let the ingredients sit at room temperature for a few minutes to allow the bread to soak up some of the vinaigrette. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.



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