I don't know about you but when springtime begins to look more like summer I begin to crave tomatoes and basil and plant way more of it than I could ever use. Thankfully, one of the most delicious salad recipes that I know uses both of those ingredients in abundance and is an inexpensive and delicious way to feed your family on a warm spring night. Panzanella is a traditional Florentine torn bread and tomato salad and it's base is usually tomatoes , cucumbers, basil and a day old baguette. However I've taken a few liberties with the original recipe and the results are wonderful. You can make this delicious salad in less than 10 minutes if you've got the ingredients on hand. Let it sit for another 1/2 hour and voila! You've got dinner!
For my Panzanella salad I cube as many tomatoes as I want and at least 1 whole English cucumber. If I've got them I add some herb roasted potatoes and/or fresh green beans. Then I thinly slice alot of red onion and toss the whole of it into a bowl. Then I add at least 2 cups of Genovese Basil leaves, a cup and a half of fresh cubed mozzerella, a cup of shaved parmesan and at least 3 cups of DAY OLD bread that I've torn into pieces. Season with salt, pepper , fresh (if using dried herbs use less) oregano, rosemary, parsley, sage and thyme.
Then make a dressing of fresh olive oil, champagne or red wine vinegar, and about two tablespoons of minced garlic or garlic paste and one half teaspoon of dijon mustard, whisk it all together and pour about 1 and a half cups of the dressing over the salad, toss the whole thing and let it sit for a while. If you don't have dressing use a good organic olive oil vinaigrette and add extra minced garlic!
Serve this salad with a lovely glass of rose' or iced herbal tea. If you want, you can also add some tuna fish or hard boiled egg, turning the whole thing into a lovely modified Nicoise salad and adding a bit of extra protein for those who want it!