Here we are at August 20th and the sugar maple leaves have begun to turn color ever so slightly, before the fall takes hold it is time to get into your vegetable patch or the local farmers market and get busy. Tomatoes are my reason for living in the summer. Besides Tomato Pie, eating them dusted with grey salt or sliced thickly between a good wheat bread and obscenely slathered with mayo, Panzanella is a must have at least three times a summer dish. I used this recipe from Epicurious.com as my cheat base but added my own twists based on recipes I have gathered for years of this one dish.
Panzanella is a Tuscan salad that was born from economy and thrift. Yesterdays, or older, bread, an abundance of fresh summer tomatoes and a well stocked larder that contains full flavored olive oil choices and other preserved items like capers. Don’t forget to let your bread get stale, it is essential, toss this together in the morning after you have picked today’s harvest and let it sit.
I began with a round, crusty, well textured Tuscan bread that I removed the crust from and made large 1 ¼ - 1 ½ cubes, allowing them to dry for several days. I add chopped garlic, capers, more really good extra virgin olive oil. (I use a peppery olive oil from Spain, D.O.P. Gata-Hurdes from Fairway) and a Cabernet Vinegar. Toss, let sit at room temperature for a few hours. Toss again and serve on grilled romaine. Let the swooning commence.