Panzanella Salad: Because when you find a good Baguette you celebrate it!

Yesterday I decided to take a quick trip to the beach and jump into the ocean for a swim. The water was perfect and as I laid out in the sun to dry off I started planning my route home so that I could also shop for dinner along my way.
Once I was dry I walked back to my car and was on my way.
I walked into a little market by my house, and the first thing I saw were baguettes. They called to me and I responded by putting one in my basket and deciding that I needed to make a Panzanella Salad.

If you don't know, Panzanella is basically an old school Italian way to use stale bread. You cube your bread and whatever veg you have and toss in a vinaigrette. You let it sit the the bread softens up, and then you eat!!
So since I bought a fresh baguette, and you probably will to when you make make this, we'll have to toast the bread. But before we get to that lets talk veg.

My go to for this salad never really changes, but you can use whatever you want. I stick to what seems to be the usual suspects for this salad. Tomato, red onion, different color bell peppers, and lots and lots of basil. You can use whatever you like though. Throw in a cucumber if you would like. If raw onions aren't your thing, take them out, and try some scallions. There are no rules here.

To make mine, here is what you'll need;
- Tomatoes -  See what looks ripe. If they are large get 3. Small, get 5. And medium, get 4.
- Bell peppers - One orange and one yellow is what I like. they taste better than the green and red, and I like the way they look better
- One small red onion
- Fresh Basil
- Salt and pepper
- Dried Parsley
- Garlic Powder
- Olive oil
- Vinegar or Lemon juice. I like Red Wine Vinegar for this

So this is really easy. Start with heating a sauté pan on medium and add about a table spoon of Olive oil. I like to season the oil while it heats with a little salt, pepper and parsley flakes. This way the oil gets flavored.
While thats heating up, take about half of your baguette and cube it into bite size pieces. When you're done with that your pan should be hot enough. Dump all the cubes in and toss them around so they all get a light coating of oil. Now let them toast. This will take like 15 minutes. You don't want the heat too high, so it takes a little while. (Think grilled cheese. You know how when you rush that, and the bread gets too brown, and the cheese hasn't even melted..?)
So let the bread toast, tossing the cubes every few minutes or so until they are all golden and hard. Like big croutons.

While thats happening cut up your tomatoes and peppers into cubes the same size that you made the bread. Everything should be the same size at this point.
The onion however you can cut however you want. If you LOVE raw onion, feel free to cube it. If you just want a little of the flavor, you can only use a few thin slices.
And of course, chop up lots and lots of fresh basil. I like to Chiffonade  my basil for this.

Your bread should be perfect by now. Once it's cooled off enough get everything into a bowl.
Now you want to dress your salad. You can use a classic vinaigrette if thats what you like.
I eyeball everything, so I salt and pepper the veg and bread, and also sprinkle garlic powder as well. Then 3 or 4 turns around the bowl with the vinegar, and finally the same 3 or 4 turns around the bowl of Olive Oil.
Toss everything together and taste. Adjust however you think you may need to and then set the salad aside in your fridge for 15 to 20 minutes. You want to wait to serve this until the bread softens a bit.

Thats it! Its super refreshing and light. A wonderful summer meal on it's own, or a perfect side to some nice grilled meat or fish.
However you do it, you're gonna love it, and your guests will be excited for switching up the same old boring side salad!!!

Don't forget to add the love and remember to leave me comments! I love to hear how these things turn out!

XO - P


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