Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Tomato Panzanella for Beach Nighters

I subscribe to Lynne Rossetto Kasper's e-newsletter of recipes "Weeknight Kitchen", part of her American Public Radio broadcast "The Splendid Table". When I received the newsletter this morning, the Tomato Panzanella with Mozzarella and Olivada looked so good I knew I would make it for Beach Night tonight.
I was so intrigued by Lynne's recipe with the dressing made with tapenade that I only changed one thing: the bread, which I cut into cubes, drizzled with olive oil and Italian herb mixture and baked in the oven until crispy. In essence, I made croutons. Adding to the splendor of this dish, all of the ingredients used were organically grown, much of it locally.
Most of you know that I try to cook low-carb, which doesn't include a lot of bread. But because this dish was for a crowd and I was going to be eating just a small amount of it, I wasn't too worried about the carb factor. Plus, to balance things out, I prepared some blacked chicken breasts for protein which went quite well with the salad.

Tomato Panzanella With Mozzarella and Olivada
10 ounces good artisan bread (I used Brio's Pain au Levain)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons dried Italian herb mixture, crumbled

1 red onion, peeled cut in half and sliced thinly in half-moons
1/2 cup scallions (green onions), white and green parts, sliced thinly
Medium-size English cucumber, peeled in stripes, cubed
1 tablespoon capers, drained
3 large, organically grown red tomatoes, peeled, cored, chopped (see photo)
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup or more coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
(See below for dressing recipe)

In a large bowl, toss cubed bread with olive oil and Italian herbs and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in a 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Bread will be just crispy, not hard. Set aside to cool.
Combine the onions, cucumber, capers, tomatoes, garlic, basil and mozzarella in a large bowl. You can refrigerate it at this point if making ahead but bring to room temperature to finish for serving.
About 15 minutes before serving, combine the salad with the croutons and allow to sit for 10 minutes to allow the croutons to absorb the juices. Just before serving, toss the salad with the dressing and serve at room temperature.

Olivada Dressing
from Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Weeknight Kitchen
2 Tablespoons black olive tapenade (I used Trader Joe's brand)
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
small amount cayenne pepper (I used a small portion of 1/8 teaspoon

Combine all ingredients and whisk together well. This will keep in the fridge for several days, but bring it to room temperature before using. (And, darn, in my haste to get to the beach on time, I forgot to photograph the dressing, which, by the way, is fantastic.)

We had another one of those cherished, beautiful evenings on the beach.
See? Everyone's happily waving at you!

Good night!