Grand Central Bakery

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Panzanella

bread-salad-main-470x313This is easy to make with Rustic Croutons but grilling the bread adds a wonderful toasty flavor and keeps the kitchen cool on a hot summer day. If you want a more substantial salad, add calamata or nicoise olives, roasted vegetables, and/or chunks of fresh mozzarella or canned Pacific albacore.

Makes 4-6 servings

5 thick slices of Grand Central bread (Como, ciabatta or any rustic loaf of your choice; day old is fine) or 4-5 cups Rustic Croutons
4 cups ripe tomato wedges
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons capers
2 cups diced English or Persian cucumber
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup best quality olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For grilled bread: Brush bread with good-quality olive oil and grill over medium heat on both sides until very lightly charred (watch closely so it doesn’t burn). Let cool and tear into bite-size pieces. In a large salad bowl, combine grilled bread or Rustic Croutons with tomato wedges, basil, capers and cucumbers and toss gently.

In a small bowl, combine onion and red wine vinegar. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.

Pour 2/3 of the dressing over grilled bread mixture and toss to coat. Taste and more as needed. Let salad sit for 10-15 minutes to let the bread soak up the tomato juices and dressing. Just before serving, toss again, taste and adjust seasonings. Add an extra splash of vinegar for brightness if desired. Serve at room temperature or chilled.