If you are like me, there is one single summer salad. Just one. It is the undeniably, irresistible caprese salad. The basil, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella drenched in olive oil, balsamic and garlic. Oh how I melt for this salad. There is just one problem with this salad for me right now: I have an over producing cucumber vine (or 7 of them) and for me, caprese and cucumber just don’t mix.
So you ask, what should I (or you) do with all those cucumbers, after you have made pickles and antipasto plates and cucumber salad? Make panzanella! We came across this dish at a Fourth of July party this summer and were pleasantly surprised that it was good, really good! The bread was not soggy and the flavors were really fresh. As it turns out, it is also the perfect dish to use up over producing cucumbers. We have been eating this just about every other day all month!
This recipe makes the perfect amount for two people. Being that we are only two people and this type of salad does not keep, it was important that I get the ratios right to make the perfect amount. You could easily make this for more, but I bet there are a lot of people out there like us, who don’t want to make a salad that has five cups of bread in it that must be eaten “right now!” in order to taste the way it should.
Panzanella Salad for Two.
1/2 french bread baguette, cubed (about 4-6 cups)
2-6 T olive oil
1 t kosher or flake salt
2 T high quality olive oil
1 T white wine vinegar (can use champagne)
1-2 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 T basil, cut in chiffonade
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 cucumber (or 1 small one), diced
2 T red onion, finely diced
1/2 t kosher, flake or sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 t fresh cracked black pepper (or to taste)
***you can also add 1-2 T capers, which I detest, but some might say they would be very good in this salad!
Put two tablespoons in a large skillet and heat to medium. Add bread cubes and salt and toss. Add olive oil as needed throughout cooking process. Saute bread for ten minutes, tossing frequently to encourage even cooking.
In a medium dish combine high quality olive oil, vinegar, garlic and basil. Add tomato, cucumber and onions. When bread is well toasted, move the pan off the burner and allow the bread to sit until you are ready to serve.
When you are ready to serve add the bread to the salad, top with salt and pepper, and toss to coat everything.