Garden and heirloom tomatoes are in full swing most everywhere this time of year, and ramping up to their peak here in California. And with any produce this tasty, simple is best: a thick slice with a light dusting of salt, a caprese salad, my beloved BLT. Let’s add panzanella to the summer rotation. It’s a sunny Tuscan bread salad made with tomatoes and onions, a clever way to stretch a good loaf of country bread that’s gone a little stale. This traditional dish is a tasty exercise in texture, with crunchy bread soaking up pulp and juice from ripe tomatoes and a peppery snap of red onion. It’s both frugal (waste not, want not) and lusty, gobbling up every last bit of summer’s bounty, every dribble of tomato juice and sunshine.
You can look up a recipe, but the proportions of a panzanella are really up to you (more tomatoes, less bread, more basil, maybe even mozzarella?) and with whatever you have on hand (that lonely red onion quarter languishing in the back of the fridge). The technique is easy: tear the bread into hunks, drizzle with olive oil and toast in a pan or in the oven so the bread chunks get a little crispy on the edges, but not quite crouton-dry.
And purists might blanch at the thought of fussing up such a simple dish, but you can really add any other Mediterranean ingredients you have on hand: capers, pitted black olives, roasted red peppers, a big handful of arugula or grilled hunks of summer squash. But it’s your salad, and your summer, so you do as you like. And most importantly, try pairing it with our Layer Cake Sauvignon Blanc. Mangia!