Panzanella Salad

Everyone has a “Must Make” during the summer. For me, one of the must haves is Panzanella Salad. It’s just one of those things that is phenomenal and one of my favorite dishes during the summer. When it is summer, so many of the ingredients can be fresh – and that is so important because freshness helps the flavors just pop in your mouth!

Yesterday I had a cookout to attend, and I knew I wanted to bring something even though I was told everything was taken care of. At first I thought I would bring a dessert, but instead I decided on the panzanella salad, because you can’t have too many side dishes (at least that is my thought process!). I went to Wegman’s to get more tomatoes, another ball of fresh mozzarella and another french baguette because my supply of these crucial ingredients was dwindling.

I got home with less than an hour to prep my dish! Thankfully the amazing sous chef was ready to spring into duty! I had him toast my french bread baguette, since it wasn’t a day old or anywhere close to stale…. for this recipe, it’s best for the bread to be a little stale because the balsamic and olive oil will absorb nicely that way.

I was chopping tomatoes and cucumbers furiously (but safely) and as I was doing so, I keep thinking – “I need to take photos! I am the worst food blogger!” but I did not stop chopping, and never ended grabbing my camera. I’m sorry!

The key ingredients to Panzanella Salad:

TOMATOES – I usually use cherry tomatoes. Halved or quartered

Fresh mozzarella cheese (chopped into squares about the same size as tomatoes)

BASIL (I used the basil straight from my garden)

Cucumbers (seeded and chopped, I keep the skin on)

Red onions (but I omitted them knowing that some of the people at the cookout can’t do raw onion. I thought about grilling the onions and I think it would be fabulous – but I decided to leave them out)

A little salt and pepper

GOOD balsamic vinegar 🙂

Olive Oil

A day old french baguette, chopped up into cubes

1 can of cannellini beans

I literally just mix all of the ingredients together, but sometimes I will keep the french bread out if I want to eat the salad for a couple of days.

I had a serving of the panzanella salad for lunch today:

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When I got home I was hungry and I knew I had a couple of hours until dinner – so I discovered a new way to eat some of the salad (not the bread!):

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More salad on a pita chip! It was tasty.

In other news, I am finally reading The Goldfinch. It is sad, but wonderful – a real page turner. I have been reading more and blogging less. But still cooking and eating healthy food most of the time! One of the things we have discovered this summer is that the crockpot is a great tool when you do not want to turn on the oven and heat up the whole house. We have been making a lot of chicken breast in the crock pot, for a pulled chicken. I’ve been eating this chicken with a side of beans, vegetables and / or fruit for lunch.

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It has been great to have a go to lunch most of the time. Tonight we will be grilling some chicken breast in a lime & cilantro marinade (from Wegman’s) and… wait for it… fried green tomatoes. I will do my best to take photos of the tomatoes and will definitely report back. It is the first time I have made fried green tomatoes in years, so I am hoping I will be able to replicate my grandmother’s. Of course her green tomatoes come right out of the garden in her backyard – so she ahead of me already!

Stay tuned – I will report back tomorrow. All the best, blog readers!! Cook and be happy!


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