I love summer time. I love summer because it's sunny, it's hot, and I can go to the beach.
I also love summer because the vegetable crop is that much better.
Walking through Whole Foods, Trader Joes, or your local grocer or Farmer's Market, if you're like me, you can tell the difference between a summer crop vegetable and well, the rest of the year. Tomatoes seem redder. Cucumbers firmer. Bell peppers in many crisp and vibrant colors. It's just awesome.
I came across Ina Garten's Panzanella salad and became inspired. With a few changes, this salad has become my summer favorite.
Here's what you need for my version:
- 1-2 (1 if large, 2 if medium) tomatoes on the vine
- 1 large cucumber
- 1/2 a large red onion
- 5-7 large leaves of basil
- 1 orange bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- 3 tbsp capers
- 1 small baguette
- Total of 7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil; divided (2 tbsp for toasting the baguette, 5 for the vinaigrette)
- 1.2 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1.5 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp minced garlic in water
- 1 tsp kosher salt (more or less as needed)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground recommended)
Heat a skillet on medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp EVOO. Slice your baguette into 1-2 inch cubes and toss them in the pan with a little salt and pepper. Let these guys cook, shaking the pan around, for about 3-5 minutes. Add another tbsp of EVOO. Take the freshly made croûton off the skillet when they are toasty golden brown.
As the croûtons are cooking, I like to chop my vegetables. Here's the beauty of this dish. It's prettier when it's rustic looking, meaning, don't chop perfect pieces. roughly chop your peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, basil, and red onion. Throw these guys in a bowl. Toss the capers in the bowl of fresh goodness now, also.
Next for the vinaigrette. Place 5 tbsp (give or take) of EVOO in a bowl. Add the white wine vinegar. Then the Dijon mustard, the garlic, and a little salt and pepper. Whisk together. The vinaigrette will be thik and delicious looking.
Toss the croûtons in the bowl with the veggies and drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad. Toss the salad around and let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving so the flavors come together.
And that is it. It's delicious, homemade, and you'll become addicted.
The facts (they make it easy to become addicted- the fat content is from olive oil, which is a healthy fat for you, and hellllo veggies!):
It would be a lie if I said anyone in my family made this salad growing up.
But I tell you what, I will be making this every summer from here on out....and I bet you will, too!