The idea of a bread salad always sounded good to me, but the reality was soggy bread. Not so yummy.
A recipe from July 2011′s Cook’s Illustrated sounded great, and dealt with the whole mush factor by cubing and toasting the bread before throwing it in with everything else. So, on the bad side, you gotta heat up your kitchen a bit, but on the good side, this panzanella is so delicious.
I wanted to do the classic bread, tomato, olive oil, fresh mozzarella and basil thing…in part because my basil plants are OUT OF CONTROL and I already have a bunch of pesto in the freezer. So I followed their basic recipe but used what I had instead.
Toss 6 cups of cubed baugette in 2 TB olive oil and then toast it on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
Chop 2 large tomatoes and drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving the liquid.
Whisk together 1-2 TB balsamic or red wine vinegar, 2-4 TB olive oil and the reserved tomato juice. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add the cooled bread and toss to coat. Let stand for 10 min or so.
Add the chopped tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and chopped fresh basil. Eat it up!
This was the best right after I made it, but still good the next day for lunch. And if you are lucky, a little kitty will help you with your leftover baugette.
I gotta say that I get so happily geeked out over Cooks Illustrated! Adam made fun of how it’s written, but I love their scientific approach to cooking, and everything I’ve made has been worth making again. Their lemon bars kill all other lemon bars.