As I have mentioned in previous posts, I love anything that has tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar in it. There is an Italian Restaurant that does guest days at the cafeteria at the University of Utah. I love to get their panzanella salad. If you have never had this before, it is such a wonderful combination of tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, balsamic vinegar and crunchy french bread. So good and makes a nice summer dinner. You can add some feta or mozzarella cheese to give it another twist. This is a great way to use up the tomatoes and basil from your summer gardens. The traditional way is to let it set for awhile so the bread can soak up the dressing, but I like the bread crunchy, so I add the bread just before serving.
Tomato and Bread Salad ( Panzanella)
½ pound day of crusty bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 6 cups)
2 cloves garlic, mashed with 1 TB of coarse salt
2 large tomatoes (about 1 pound) cut into large pieces (can also use cherry tomatoes)
½ cup sliced cucumbers
½ cup sliced red onions
½ cup olive oil
2-3 TB balsamic vinegar
10 fresh basil leaves shredded
I toast my bread chunks in a 400 degree oven until lightly toasted and crunchy. Combine all other ingredients in a large bowl. Add the bread cubes prior to serving and toss to mix.