Something magical happens once summer rolls around, and this beautiful salad is surprising proof. As the sun shines, the harvest reaches peak flavor and the available produce dramatically changes. Summer is not only a time of great weather (which we in Seattle are especially thankful for!) but also a time of new and exciting culinary opportunities.
And this is where the magic comes in: in summer, produce is so rich and flavorful on its own that meals come together with close to zero effort. Simply said, a little goes an astonishingly long way. And so just a small basket filled with veggies from the local farmers market can be transformed into a simple yet satisfying meal.
With this in mind, I want to share my recipe for a traditional Tuscan panzanella salad. This salad is made up of fresh, summer-ripened heirloom tomatoes, crisp, refreshing cucumbers, red onions, crispy or stale bread, and a bright vinaigrette. And there are two simple keys to making it memorable: make sure your produce is as fresh as possible and use a loaf of artisan bread. It’s important that you use a thick, crusty loaf of bread because that’s what will eventually soak up all that wonderful dressing that everything is coated in—use the wrong type of bread and you’ll end up with mush. Traditionally, the bread for this salad is cubed the night before and left out to to dry so that it becomes stale, but I tend to cut my bread up the day of and crisp it in the oven. So if it’s too hot out, feel free to forgo the oven and let your bread become stale on it’s own.
What I love about this salad is that it’s incredibly flexible, so if you have some other ingredients on hand that are calling your name, feel free to add them to the mix. This salad is truly a crowd pleaser, and would be a perfect summer staple in anyone’s home.