Grilled Sourdough Panzanella

Panzanella is an Italian bread and tomato salad that is popular in summertime. Like much Umbrian and Tuscan cuisine, it was at first more practical than gourmet: a good solution for using day-old bread and summer’s plentiful tomatoes. Excellent served with grilled chicken. Also a good picnic food, but take the bread, vegetables and vinaigrette in separate containers, combining just before serving.

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients
4 – ½ ” thick slices sourdough bread
½ cups extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small clove garlic, chopped
1 ½ lb. ripe, meaty tomatoes, cut into ½ ” cubes (yielding 3½ cups)
1 small English cucumber, seeded and cut into ½ ” cubes (see note)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

Method

Brush the bread with ¼ c. olive oil on both sides. Sprinkle with ¼ t. kosher salt and black pepper. Grill on both sides until brown. Cut into ½ ” cubes when cool.

Soak the onion in the vinegar for 10 minutes. Drain the onions and reserve the vinegar, placing the onions in large bowl.

Sprinkle garlic with ¼ t. kosher salt and mash into a paste. Whisk mashed garlic into reserved vinegar. Add ¼ c. olive oil, ¼ t. kosher salt, 1/8 t. pepper until well combined.

Toss bread cubes, tomatoes, cucumber,basil, mint, capers and vinaigrette in the bowl with the green onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook’s Note:

To seed the cucumbers, slice in half lengthwise then drag a small spoon or melon baller across the seedy flesh. The cucumber slices will be crescent-shaped.

From Fine Cooking (September 2008 No. 80).

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