I feel like I haven’t cooked anything in ages. We’re T-30 or so days until we move, and dinners have been a weird mashup of items long forgotten in the freezer paired with pantry staples because who wants to cart a freezer full of meat to a new apartment, or, more popular than ever – sandwiches. We had a few slices of sourdough leftover from last week, and I’ve been craving summer ingredients: fresh tomatoes, basil, avocado, etc… We whipped up this simple summer panzanella in less than 30 minutes, and it was exactly what I was after – fresh and delicious, tasted like summer. The bread still has a slight crunch and chew to it, the tomatoes are their perfect summertime selves, and the avocado is a no-brainer addition.
Let’s be true to my kitchen style – I’ve never made panzanella before because it’s….a….bread (carbs, devil!!)….salad, but found an easy recipe from Food 52 and slightly read the ingredients and instructions before attempting this myself. I think I added perhaps a bit too much balsamic (as noted with eyebrows raised by Main Squeeze when I was liberally dousing the tomato mixture with it), so I’ve adjusted the recipe to taste. BTW, it was still super delicious.
Simple Summer Panzanella
- 3 cups 1-inch cubes of bread (great way to use up older bread)
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Sea salt or garlic salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 pounds tomatoes (any kind or flavor you prefer in the summer)
- 1 shallot, peeled and minced
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (you can also use any flavor you prefer, and might want to use white balsamic if you want your salad to be extra pretty)
- 4 to 5 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped into smallish bits
- 1/2 cup basil, chiffonade or chopped
- Avocado, diced
Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or coat with cooking spray. Toss bread cubes with 3 tablespoons olive oil until evenly coated and arrange on the pan. Season lightly with garlic salt and pepper. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, tossing halfway through cooking, until crisp and browned. Congratulations, you’ve just made croutons. Remove from oven and toss into large prep bowl.
Chop your tomatoes and combine with minced shallot, balsamic, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and mozzarella together in bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes to get extra juicy. Pour mixture over bread and let sit for at least 10-15 minutes (you can put it in the fridge) to allow bread to soak up the juices. Stir halfway through. Add diced avocado at the end and stir to mix.
Top with salt or garlic salt and pepper and serve.