MARKET FRESH PANZANELLA SALAD
A perfect salad for the dog days of summer requires ingredients that refuse to wither and wilt. Crunchy, colorful farm stand vegetables pair perfectly with a light champagne vinaigrette and bread cubes cooked in fragrant garlic infused olive oil. When toasting bread for this salad, the smell of seasoned oil invites kitchen visitors. Rather than shoo away ingredient swipers, just add a slice or two of extra bread to the sauté pan. If no one is around, go ahead and nosh--no one will know.
Nota bene: My husband thinks this salad is even better the next day and the next. Wonderful anytime of year, but holds up beautifully in a picnic basket and hot summer outdoor entertaining.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large sourdough boule, cut into 1 inch blocks, day or two old bread best
2 teaspoons sea salt
14 cocktail tomatoes, quartered
1 English cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and sliced in 1/2 pieces
32 green beans, blanched and sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 bunch basil, plucked from stem and roughly chopped
1/4 cup capers, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic gloves and the blocks of sourdough and sprinkle with salt. Toss frequently until toasted and golden brown. Add more olive oil if needed. Be patient, this process takes time. The bread must be thoroughly dry and toasted or it will be soggy in the salad. Remove from heat and let bread cool.
2. Put the cooled bread in a beautiful large bowl. Add the vegetables, basil, and capers to the bowl.
3. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and the bread and toss gently. Season to taste with additional sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Before serving let sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the vinaigrette to seep into the bread.