I am sure this Tuscan bread Salad has as many versions as there are Italians that make it, and every one, my non-Italian self included, will tell you there’s is the best. Usually this dish is reserved for summertime, but I love to make it year round, subbing the ripe tomatoes for butternut squash in the fall, and asparagus tip with Chevre in the spring. The following recipe is a go to for me, but by all means, feel inspired by your own market, mother or memory and change it up accordingly.
Panzanella with Smashed Caper Dressing:
2 tablespoons capers, drained, not rinsed.
1–2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoons fresh oregano leaf, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 French baguette, preferably day old, cut into one-inch cubes
2 cups chopped or cubed tomatoes, any in season varietal
2 sweet peppers, such as shishito or Pedrons, although diced green bell pepper makes a fine substitution.
1 English cucumber, unpeeled and chopped
6 ounces mozzarella Cheese, cut into bite size cubes.
Fresh basil leaf, as much or as little as you like, cut or torn into bite size pieces.
For the dressing:
Working on a cutting board, sprinkle the salt over the capers and garlic cloves. Using the broad side of your knife, smash the capers and garlic until they become a chunky paste. Put the paste into a mixing bowl. Add the Oregano, Mustard, Sugar and Vinegar. Wisk to combine with caper-garlic paste. Slowley stream in Olive Oil, wisking constantly to combine. Season with more salt, if desired and cracked black pepper, to taste.
Combine the baguette, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, and cheese in a large bowl. Pour dressing over top. Let sit for thirty minutes, up to three hours before serving. Top with fresh basil leaf, and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Serve to friends and family.