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!


  1. You're so lucky to live by the beach!! It looks wonderful. I love the sound of this salad, and I agree about the bread, a little bit is no big deal. Your chicken looks great too. Love the four photos side by side too.

  2. Hi Christine,

    Great photographs and that Olivada dressing sounds delicious! Last summer, I had the pleasure of driving through your part of California (we stayed in Arcata) with my family. What a wonderful place to live!

  3. Hi Kalyn, We feel very lucky to live in this part of the world. As for those 4 photos, I like the placement also, but I did it in the wee hours of this morning and only hope I can remember how!

    The olivada dressing is outstanding and can be used in numerous ways that I'm just beginning to think about. You do such wonderful things with vegetarian fare - please have at it!

  4. The salad looks so delicious--as well as the beach pictures! You really are living in such a fabulous place.

  5. This post makes me hungry for 2 things: panzanella and some beach time with friends. I'm off this weekend for a Marin coast retreat with my women's group. I just might make this salad to complete the picture!

  6. This recipe looks so amazing, my taste buds are crying right now. What a perfect dish to share on the beach!
    I updated my strawberry ice cream post with the recipe. Thanks for reading!
    Cheers :)

  7. Your panzanella looks delicious. How fun and lucky that you all get to eat on the beach.


  8. mmmm..panzanella. One of my favorite things in the whole world. And being on the beach...mmmmmm.


Thank you for stopping by! I will do my best to respond to your comments and questions so feel free to write to me here. Sorry for the comment moderation but it helps to keep the spammers at bay.