Monday, July 7, 2014

Tomato Mozzarella Panzanella (Bread Salad)

Hello, my name is Jessie, and I am a carb-o-holic. It's true. Potatoes, sweets, fruits, and (my personal guilty pleasure) freshly baked bread. Give me a loaf of bread with a beautiful crust, some butter or cheese, maybe tomato and olive oil. Mmmmm... I'm all over it.

With the summer season peaking, I was assembling all these ingredients with a mind for something fresh and light. What came out of the kitchen was a Panzanella, or Tuscan bread salad. It features a simple combination of ingredients that produces clear and bold flavors. Beautifully toasted sourdough is broiled in butter, then tossed with juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. Finished with a light balsamic dressing, this dish makes a lovely lunch or side dish. It's everything a summer dish should be! Try this Tomato Mozzarella Panzanella for your next BBQ or picnic!

Note: do not combine all of the ingredients together until about 10 minutes before serving. Nobody likes a super soggy panzanella salad!

Tomato Mozzarella Panzanella (Bread Salad)
modified from the original found on
makes 8 servings

1 large loaf of good crusty bread (I prefer sourdough)
5-6 large ripe tomatoes, roughly diced into bite sized pieces
1 pound bufala mozzarella, roughly diced into bite sized pieces
4 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons garlic powder
salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Take the loaf of bread and cube it into bite sized pieces. Reserve.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium-high heat until just slightly foamy. Add the cubed bread and coat completely with the butter/olive oil mix. Add a heavy pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Toss to coat.

Transfer to a cookie sheet, making sure the bread is spread out in one even layer. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of garlic powder over the bread. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, turning the pan halfway through baking.

I like to broil the bread for an additional 2-4 minutes, to give it a more toasty flavor. Keep a sharp eye on it to prevent burning!

While the bread is baking, prepare the tomatoes and mozzarella. Wash, dry, and chop a handful of fresh basil leaves, leaving some whole for garnish.

Once the bread has finished toasting, remove from the oven to cool slightly. Assemble your dressing (see below). Combine all of the ingredients and half the dressing (always start with less and add more as needed) 10 minutes before serving, in a large salad bowl and toss well. Your bread should be coated, but not swimming in dressing. Add more if desired.

Garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately.

Balsamic Dressing

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
heavy pinch of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried mustard

Combine all the ingredients into a small bowl. Whisk. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

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