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)
Good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
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
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
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.
A beautiful bowl to share...