Panzanella (Italian Tomato Bread Salad)

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Happy Fourth of July friends!
I have a deliciously simple side dish for you to bring your gathering TODAY. Seriously, you can make this now and still have time to buy all the fireworks your car can hold.
You’re welcome.

A departure from the usual soggy potato and macaroni salads (and ahem, all my grain salads); panzanella is a wonderfully summery dish of tomatoes, bread, onions and a tart and addictive red wine vinegar salad dressing. Super easy but really refreshing and a perfect addition to a grill-out spread.

I bought an incrediblely perfect olive bread fougasse at the market this morning.
BUT Panzanella is traditionally made with stale bread (a way to use up the day-old loaf); as the tomatoes and dressing soak the bread and make it palatable again. However, using fresh bread is totally fine; it just doesn’t need as long to soak.
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(hello olive lover)

I loved using the olive bread, as it added another element of savory flavor to the dish; but any Italian bread or bakery bread you have on-hand is totally fine. Though not traditional (when am I ever?) I added ricotta salata, a firm, feta-like ricotta. I loved the salty tang and texture it brought to the salad. Ripe plum tomatoes and a handful of scallions and basil and you’re in business. However, I want to stress, this is a totally throw-together dish. It was invented to use up old bread! So don’t feel like you have to be too precious with the actual ingredients, mix it up with what you have!

Let’s do this. You have fireworks to buy.

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Panzanella (Italian Tomato Bread Salad)

Serves: 4 – 6, Time: 10 minutes plus chilling time
5 Roma Tomatoes, diced
8 oz Ricotta Salata, diced (or feta or fresh mozzarella if you prefer)
2 scallions, green & white parts, diced (or 1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced)
1/2 loaf (about 8oz)  Olive bread (or any bakery bread, preferably stale), cut into 1″ cubes
2 stalks basil, leaves removed and roughly chopped
Dressing:
3 tbs red wine vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
pinch salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

In a large bowl, toss together salad ingredients. In a small jar, combine all the ingredients of the dressing, cover and shake until emulsified. Taste here. Adjust seasoning as needed. Pour dressing over salad, stir to coat thoroughly. Allow to chill for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours if using stale bread. Serves 4-6 as a side.

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Be safe out there, friends!

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