Panzanella

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3 tablespoons good olive oil (you’ll end up using more)
1 loaf French bread or Italian bread (the size you get at Wal Mart), cut into 1-inch cubes (original recipe was 6 cups, but we like it with more bread)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 or 5 ripe tomatoes (small like the vine-ripened or roma), de-seeded and cut into about 1 inch long slices/chunks (how you prefer them).
1 hothouse cucumber, peeled, seeded, halved, and sliced 1/4-inch thick half-moon shaped slices
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (I prefer roasted red bell peppers..about half a jar, cut up)
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (optional..I leave it out)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)
1 can of artichoke hearts, diced to your liking (optional)
3 tablespoons capers, drained

 

For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (optional…I never use garlic in mine)
1 Tbs. Dijon or grainy mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (white wine vinegar is cheaper and works just as well)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions
Sprinkle salt over the top of all the bread, and mix it up to combine. Heat the oil in a large saute’ pan. When it’s hot enough to fry, add enough of the bread to cover the bottom of your skillet in a single layer. Cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil, and cook the rest of the bread the same way until it’s all toasted. It will burn easily, so watch carefully.

 

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, artichoke hearts, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

 

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