When cooking or having anything to do with FOOD, my three loves are: tomatoes, basil and bread. You guessed it! Italian food is one of my favorites. I love making brushetta and another twist with the same ingredients:
Panzanella (Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad)
- 4 large vine ripened tomatoes, cut into large cubes or wedges
- 1/2 pound stale country-style Italian bread, crusts removed and cubed (about 8 cups); recently I have been using the olive oil and rosemary bread from Costco which is TO DIE FOR SOOOO YUMMY. This bread is wonderful, so good. can’t say enough.
- 1 1/4 cups thinly sliced red onions (optional)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch fresh basil, stems removed, washed and dry, tear into pieces with hands
- 1-2 Tablespoons dry basil (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cut the bread into cubes. Place into a pan or bowl
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
- In a small sauce pan, heat the butter and garlic over medium heat until melted
- Pour the butter/garlic mixture over the bread cubes; toss to coat
- Sprinkle the dry basil over the bread as well. It will stick b/c of the butter/garlic mixture.
- Pour the bread mixture into a casserole type dish so the bread can cook evenly
- Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes; you just want the bread to get a little crispy
- While the bread is in the oven, cut your tomatoes and wash your fresh basil
- When the bread is ready, pour into a large bowl, and combine the tomatoes, torn basil and onions (if you are using onions). Do not cut the basil with a knife. It will cause the basil to turn black or get dark.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
- Pour the dressing over the bread salad
- Add salt and pepper, to taste, and toss to combine. Serve immediately. (If you need to wait a bit before serving, don’t pour on the dressing. The bread will absorb everything and will become too soggy. Pour on the dressing right before you eat/serve)