Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Caprese Panzanella Salad: Loving the farmers' market

In our area, there is a farmers' market every Wednesday and Sunday. I try and make it out to the market every Wednesday for a number of reasons - it's really a GREAT way to see exactly what is in season, and by buying in season, you often find prices better than your local grocery store. Our farmers' market also allows local growers to bring their products directly to you, minus the middle man of the supermarket. You need a some cash, some arms (there are no shopping carts here) and wide open eyes to see and catch all the wonder that is at your farmers market. It's not a daily shopping thing, but for the one day a week you go there, enjoy the bounty of our local produce and think of how you can cook what is in front of you. For those of you in California, you can find a list of the farmers' markets in our Golden State.

Right now, the bounty is in tomatoes...cherry tomatoes in a variety of colors, red, yellow, orange and shapes, round, oval, teardrop. The flavor of these ripe tomatoes cannot be beat, and on my most recent trip to the market, I couldn't resist buying 3 baskets of three different colors. Of course Daughter #2 absolutely INSISTED on the yellow (as it is her favorite color) and I was happy to bring my bounty home. I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do with it, but the colors of it all simply attracted me and I couldn't resist.

I decided to do a panzanella salad, basically a salad with really delicious croutons, a variation of what I had done in the Greek version. I wanted to use some beautiful Italian fresh bufala mozzarella I had picked up (Costco if you can believe it), a yellow bell pepper that Daughter #2 also insisted on buying, fresh basil and crusty bread croutons. For that salty bite, I decided to add some kalamata olives (I know not Italian) The result was a delicious combination of crunch, soft subtle chewiness and delicious juicy bites. The high quality of ingredients truly elevated the dish to a new level, and Daughters and Friend BO enjoyed it heartily.

Caprese Panzanella (adapted from Ina Garten)
Serves 6

Good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
Kosher salt

1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
12 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (using different colors makes it more appetizing)
1/2 cup basil, chiffonade
1/2 pound fresh bufala mozzarella cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted

Dressing

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil

Directions

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed.

Place the yellow pepper and tomatoes in a large bowl.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the mozzarella, olives, basil and bread cubes and mix together lightly. Serve at room temperature.

Printable recipe

A beautiful bowl to share...

1 comment:

Julie M. said...

I can't tell you how many times I have made this! I've served it to my family, my parents, my in-laws (all with rave reviews) and am having a friend over for lunch tomorrow and guess what? We're eating Caprese Panzanella Salad! A new staple! Love it!!!

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