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BackstoryThis is a great appetizer or side dish. Panzanella is a traditional Italian dish that is great with in-season heirloom tomatoes from your local farmers' markets. Inspired by Angeli Caffe (Evan Kleiman's restaurant in Los Angeles does a fabulous one when the heirloom tomatoes are in season!). Once again, I'm not very good with exact measurements because I like to experiment.
- 2 lbs of your favorite tomatoes, chop and drain excess liquid
- chopped garlic (as much or as little as you like - 2 tsp)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 medium sized cucumber, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar (or you can substitute lemon juice)
- chopped basil leaves
- +/- chopped good quality olives (if you like)
- Mix together and let stand covered in the refrigerator while you make the croutons.
- Crouton/Bread portion:
- Pre-heat oven to 375.
- 6 cups of day-old, crustless hearty bread (1/2 inch cubes)
- 1/4 cup butter
- small amount of minced garlic
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Melt butter in skillet on medium heat and add garlic and saute for a minute. Add the cubes of bread until coated. Season with salt/pepper to taste. Transfer to bowl and toss with Parmigiano cheese. Then transfer to cookie sheet/baking pan and bake for 7-9 minutes.
- After croutons/bread has cooled a bit, throw the croutons in the tomato/onion mixture, toss, and serve.