Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Recipe: Panzanella with Smoked Mozzarella

If you're looking for dishes that are easy to make and travel well, say for a picnic in the park, then this recipe is perfect for you. I love how simple and delicious a bunch of raw veggies can be. It's really worth the extra effort to grill the bread before cutting it into cubes for that nice bit of smoky flavor. This one is a veggie free for all, so if you love red pepper, add a couple, if you like more cucumber, go crazy. I would however caution against adding a ton of raw red onion, or if you do, make sure to bring some breath mints. Come on, you know it's true. It's a summer bread salad with cheese! What's not to love?

Panzanella with Smoked Mozzarella

5 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
4 oz. smoked mozzarella, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup of basil leaves, torn or chopped
5 thick slices country bread

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

To grill the bread, heat up your grill pan over a medium-high heat. Drizzle each side of the bread slices with a little extra-virgin olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Place the slices on the grill pan and allow to cook until they develop nice grill marks on each side. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, red pepper, red onion, cucumber and smoked mozzarella. When the bread is cool, cut the slices into bite-size cubes and add to the bowl with the vegetables. In a separate bowl, whisk together the garlic, red wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard. Salt and pepper to taste. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking continuously. Pour about three quarters of the dressing over the bread cubes and vegetables and toss to combine. Add the chopped basil and toss again to combine. If you like your panzanella well dressed, add the the remainder of the dressing. Serve and enjoy.

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