Panzanella Salad

What is it about bookstores that make them so comfortable to take a poo in? Real lady like, I know. While we made our trek inside a bookstore in our city, I decided to take a gander through the cookbooks. I had been wanting a new one, and I wanted one that I’d actually use. Not only for me, but also for the gentleband. We actually just stood there forgetting about the time and not expecting to be anywhere next. We dreamed about what kind of book I’d like to write some day. We talked through different pages of different shelves. We talked about covers and the way they felt in your hands. It was slight dreaming but as reality had it, we actually wanted a book. He said, “I want one that focuses on building kitchen skills.” I picked up this one and said, “Like this?” It was quite comical to say the least. We skimmed the pages and it seemed to fit what we were looking for. We made our purchase and packed it in our bags as we headed to D.C. We both quickly fell in the love with the book; it’s so useful and so practical. It is really the basics to kitchen skills and mechanics. While some pages’ contents we are already all too familiar with, it’s always a nice reminder. Just like life honestly. No matter how confident you are in an area of your life, you should always revisit how you got there, how you first learned, what sparked the initial reaction to head towards that confidence. It’s just something I love applying, while it’s not always easy, it’s necessary.

As we went through this book, it was interesting to see what each of us wanted to take out of it into our own kitchen. While I love reading someone’s heart and effort in writing, I also greatly appreciate beautiful photos. It’s something I am trying to build myself. The Panzanella salad they had pictured first drew me in. I had made a panzanella once before and honestly the bread stayed kind of hard and hurt my mouth. First, if you don’t know, what the heck is Panzanella? It’s basically bread salad originating from Italy. Sounds weird, right? No, it’s delicious. It is perfect for summer and super simple for those weeknights where you’ve worked all day and you “just can’t.”

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What I’ll always love about cooking is how you can so simply alter a dish. Sometimes I feel a little stoopid sharing recipes with you because I think, “This is too easy to share.” But I always remind myself that everyone is at a different point. Maybe sometimes you just need a reminder of something simple you can make this week? No matter where you’re at, there’s no denying the flavors. Using all the heirloom tomatoes the summer has to offer is a must for this dish. I love using heirloom tomatoes because of their flavor, but also because the colors are so exquisite. This dish is highly elevated with a great quality olive oil and tomatoes. They truly are the stars, and I don’t see where that would ever be an issue. One of the adjustments we made to this dish was adding garlic powder to the bread as they were crisping up in the oven. I like the flavor of shallots much more than an onion, so I always tend to put that in my cooking. We have two different kinds of basil growing in our box garden; one that is your every day basil you’d find in your local grocery store, and the other is a lemon basil. We also had parmesan and balsamic glaze in our fridge so that added a nice touch! If you make this, I’d love to know what exactly you put in yours!

6 cups of cubed ciabatta (we got ours from Fresh Market)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 large heirloom tomatoes
1 large shallot-thinly sliced
1 English cucumber-halved lengthwise then sliced
1/2 bunch of basil-rough chopped (we used 2 different kinds of basil)
1/2 bunch of flat leaf parsley- chopped2 tbs olive oil
zest of lemon
juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
balsamic glaze for the top

What you need to do!
∙Preheat oven to 350
∙Mix cubed bread in a bowl with olive oil and salt. Allow it to sit the bowl for a few minutes to soak up olive oil.
∙On a lined baking sheet, add bread and bake for 10-15 minutes, you want the bread to slightly turn golden.
∙Prep all of your veggies while bread is getting nice and toasty. Start with your tomatoes. You’ll want them to be wedges, so keep that in mine when cutting. Place those into your serving bowl first with a few pinches of salt. This is one of the many tips this cook book has to offer. Salt will always draw moisture out. While the salt is on the tomatoes, it’ll pull the liquid out that you want your bread to soak up later.
∙When your bread is out of the oven and is cool, introduce it to the tomatoes.
∙Mix around with your hands to prevent crushing any ingredients. I tossed with my fingers a few times just to make sure all the bread soaked up that liquid.
∙Add in shallots and cucumber, again toss with hands
∙Add in the rest of the olive oil, basil, and parsley. Again, toss with your hands.
∙If you’ll be enjoying right away – which you totally should, this salad doesn’t keep well – add in the lemon, lemon juice, cheese, and drizzle balsamic glaze.

(Recipe adapted from The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School)

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