25 July 2012

Panzanella (Bread Salad)

Some of our wonderful friends were kind and generous enough to throw us a baby shower a few weekends ago.  Each of them made beautiful contributions, including a Pimm's cup inspired cocktail, potato salad, pickled cucumbers, home-made sausages, a candy-filled pinata, chocolate cupcakes, raspberry buttermilk cake, and bread salad.  Noah and I felt so loved and honored by all their hard work, and I've included a few snapshots of that day.
Self-portrait.  I'm happy to report all of my aprons still fit.
All the entrees were fantastic, but the bread salad, made by Noah's cousin and her husband who run Full Belly Kitchen, disappeared the fastest.  It's fairly simple to make and has become my new favorite dinner.  I made it last Thursday for friends, on Friday for my brother, and yesterday for just Noah and I.  At this time of year there is a farmer's market every day in downtown San Francisco, and most work days I find myself ducking out of my office building for a 20 minute stroll to the market, to pick up some fruit for snacking and vegetables for dinner.  These simple ingredients - tomatoes, basil, bread - are almost always available.

Half a loaf of bread (preferably at least one day old and wheat or something hearty)
1/4 cup + 2 TBL EVOO
2 TBL balsamic vinegar
2 pints cherry tomatoes
2 generous handfuls of basil, finely chopped.
1/4 cup crumbled feta or sliced mozzarella (or more to taste)
Sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Slice the bread into 1 inch cubes and toss with 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with sea salt and pepper.
  3. Place bread into a tray and toast in the oven until dry and crunchy, about 30 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, wash and chop the cherry tomatoes in half.  Add the tomatoes and basil into a large mixing bowl.  Incorporate the balsamic vinegar, remaining olive oil, and cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  
  5. Mix everything together and let sit.  Some of the juices from the tomatoes will steep out and make a delicious dressing.
  6. Once the bread is done, let cool and then add to the salad right before serving.  Mix well so the bread is covered with the juices.
  7. Serve immediately.  
These were baby pictures of (mostly) me and a few of Noah.
The drink table
Going after the pinata.

The captive audience.

The papa-to-be.

Successfully decapitated.

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