I love Panzanella or bread salad, as my mom called it. I'm always trying to use up what I have on hand; I definitely inherited the waste not gene. Everything can be made into something else in this house. We enjoyed this salad on the Fourth of July and it's perfect for this time of year; the tomatoes are just starting to ripen.
Most Panzanellas are made with dried plain bread. I took this one a step further; it was made with croutons from an herbed foccacia for extra flavor and added crunch. Farm fresh tomatoes and green beans added fresh and juicy flavor. If you are already going all out, make sure and get some good fresh mozzarella cheese. My husband proclaimed this his new favorite.
Herbed Foccacia Croutons
1/2 Herbed Foccacia Bread (I buy mine at Trader Joe's)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Cut bread into 1/2" cubes. Combine garlic, parsley, basil, and olive oil in a bowl. Add bread cubes and toss until bread is well coated with oil.
Place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in 315 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Bake until dry and golden in color. Set aside.
1 lb. fresh green beans, cut into 2" pieces, ends removed
1 lb. tomatoes, chopped in large pieces
1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1" cubes
Cook green beans in a covered skillet with 1" of water, bring to a boil on medium heat for about 6 minutes.
Drain green beans and run under cold water. Layer salad with one half of the croutons, green beans, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and another layer of croutons.
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
If I have leftover herbs, throw them in too!
Combine vinegar, oil, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs in a cruet. Shake well to combine. Toss entire salad with dressing just prior to serving.
Just a note: I like to grow herbs in pots on my back patio, it saves time and money; sometimes all you need is just a few snips.