Recipe: Panzanella

As summer draws to an end and the evenings start too cool, I am reminded of one of my favorite pastimes:  outdoor dining.  When visiting my friends Betsy and Drew in London last month, I had the pleasure of eating Panzanella with them in their garden.  We were joined by Liz, my gallerist who also happened to be visiting from New York.  Thanks to Betsy, I am able to share with you here her surprisingly simple yet very tasty recipe for bread salad.

You will need a large bowl and a small bowl.

A one or two day-old baguette (preferably a loaf that’s tasty to begin with!)

INTO THE LARGE BOWL:

Tear the bread into bite sized pieces, and

drizzle flavorful olive oil over the bread bites until you coat them lightly, use your hand to stir the pieces around.

INTO SMALL BOWL

-really ripe tomato, cut into bite-sized pieces

-finely diced celery (only if you love celery- which I do!)

-one garlic clove, finely minced

-sherry or balsamic vinegar (whichever is of better quality and better tasting)

Look and see how much olive oil you used and let that be your gage as to how much vinegar you use.  If you are not a “by sight”cook, about two tablespoons should do it.

Add more olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper.

Mix the tomatoes and seasonings with your hand so that you can squeeze them a bit (what fun)!

COMBINE the tomato mixture with the torn bread.

Cover this with a plate or lid of some sort and allow to sit for an hour, or for as long as it takes to get the bread soft and toothsome.

Before serving add freshly torn basil leaves (a handful) and some cubed fresh mozzarella cheese.

Adjust salt, pepper and possibly add some piment d’esplette before serving.

Also, as this is a leftover salad, add any olives, fresh squeezed lemon, grilled fish, hard boiled egg or lettuces.

This makes a fabulous accompaniment to cold roast chicken or some other tasty bird.  Enjoy!

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