Melissa Clark’s Panzanella With Mozzarella And Herbs

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Oh summer how I love your long sunlit days, your lazy afternoons reading in the shade of big trees, your warm (oh who I am I kidding, at times downright hot and humid) nights. Then there is the way summer you fill the fresh markets with the jewels of the season – your bounty of berries, your cornucopia of corn, and your towers of tomatoes. As Pablo Neruda said in his poem Ode To Tomatoes:

The street/ filled with tomatoes,/ midday/ summer,/ light is/ halved/ like/ a/ tomato,/ its juice/ runs/ through the streets…”

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To say the least I have been eating my fare share of tomatoes and corn this summer; in fact with berries, yogurt, and cheese that very well may have been my complete diet this week. I never was good at moderation and when fresh food is at its best I can’t help myself all the more.

One of the finest things I did with these tomatoes, besides eating one just like you would an apple, was this Panzanella. My sister had never had Panzanella until we attended a good friend’s wedding last summer, we could say it blew her mind what she had been missing simple yet perfect – fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and stale chunks of bread all mixed together and slathered in a vinegary dressing. Need I say more?! If there were any more convincing necessary I would return to the end of Pablo Neruda’s poem “…no pit/ no husk,/ no leaves or thorns,/ the tomato offers/ its gift/ of fiery color/ and cool completeness.”

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This recipe comes from the New York Times Melissa Clark’s Panzanella With Mozzarella And Herbs and if you are going to be like me and eat close to your weight in tomatoes this summer this recipe is a must!

Summer I appreciate and love you this year more than most! It’s been good to bask in your glory and feel complete gratitude for what you bring.

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Melissa Clark’s Panzanella With Mozzarella And Herbs

Ingredients:

4 ounces ciabatta or baguette, preferably stale, cut into cubes (approx. 3 cups)

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste

¾ teaspoon sea salt, more to taste

2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, preferably a mix of varieties and colors

6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-size pieces

½ cup thinly sliced red onion, about half a small onion

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, more to taste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or thyme (or a combination)

Large pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

Black pepper, to taste

½ cup torn basil leaves

1 tablespoon capers drained

  • Heat oven to 425° Spread the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake until they are dried out and pale golden brown at the edges, about 7-15 min. Let cool on a wire rack.
  • Cut tomatoes into bite size pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Add mozzarella, onions, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, oregano or thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes if you are using them. Toss to coat and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of vinegar, the mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, and some black pepper to taste. While whisking constantly slowly drizzle in the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil until the mixture is thickened. At this point I add capers and break them up in the dressing using the back of a spoon. Add the basil to the finished dressing.
  • Add bread cubes and dressing to the tomatoes and mix well. Let sit for at least 30 min and up to 4 hours (although leftovers the next day are also good). Toss with a little more olive oil, vinegar, and salt to taste before serving. Enjoy!

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08 2016

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