Panzanella Salad

We needed to get out of Portland over the weekend for a little fresh air and R&R, so we packed up our car to go camping! It's too bad that you have to book a camping spot a year in advance in the PNW, but we decided to try our luck anyways. After driving for 4 hours in traffic and then in and out of campsites we finally found a pristine campground on Trout Creek a couple of hours outside of Portland. We may or may not have set camp on a site that was already reserved by someone else... but they never showed up so that's ok right?! We had a hilarious first night which is a good enough story for it's own post, but all around it was the perfect weekend getaway. Some people might not think camping is relaxing, but to us there's nothing better than sitting around a campfire under the stars, a cup of something strong in our hands, and talking until all of the coals have smoldered out. We grilled steaks and toasted s'mores over the fire, went on hikes, drank wine out of plastic cups, beat each other in Yahtzee, took dips in the creek when it was hot, cuddled in our sleeping bags when it was cold, and soaked up as much of the weekend as possible. 

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I've been exuding my desire for Fall for weeks now, however our little camping getaway made me realize that summer is something that you shouldn't wish to pass quickly. Once we got out of our hot apartment in the city and out into the peaceful outdoors it made me want enjoy summer to the absolute fullest. Which is why it's going to be camping, outdoor picnics, and wine on rooftops until it's time to pull out our parkas.

 So since I'm still on the summer train, that means I'm on the tomato train. You feel me? Hear me out! Two words, Panzanella Salad. It's tomatoes, and bread, and fresh basil-y deliciousness and it needs to be on your table stat. Let this not be confused with croutons. No no, it's way better than that. This is your favorite loaf of crusty bread that is crunchy on the outside yet a little soft from the tomato juices. It's as simple and summery as dishes come and you likely have most of the ingredients in your fridge. And a plus? If your bread is stale than that's even better!!

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Panzanella Salad

Ingredients

- 2 1/2 pounds or (3-4) heirloom tomatoes (different colors), cut into bite sized pieces. 
- Your favorite loaf of crusty bread (I use sourdough) cut into bite size pieces- about 6 cups worth
- 1 small red onion halved and thinly sliced
- 4-5 persian cucumbers chopped into bite-sized pieces (instead of Persian you can peel regular cucumbers and use those if need be) 
- 1 lemon juiced
- 2 gloves of garlic minced
- lots of good olive oil for drizzling
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil

What to do 

  1. Place cut tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, minced garlic, lemon juice, and a generous seasoning of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper in a large bowl. Gently stir to incorporate and let sit at room temperature while your bread cooks. 

  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F and adjust rack to center position. In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake until crisp and firm but not too browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

  3. Once bread is slightly cool, toss bread in the bowl with tomato mixture and add basil leaves and a generous drizzle of good olive oil. Toss everything to coat and season with more salt and pepper if needed. It's good if the bread soaks in the juice a little bit, so you can let your salad rest 10-15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!