The last couple of weeks have been a family-palooza for us. House guests, a week at a cottage with 145 (okay, it was only 14, but it's a lot, right?) people, then more house guests.… it was all lots of fun and Esme in particular got addicted to time with her cousin like a junkie takes to crack. But Lord above there was a lot of food to prepare. Smartly, we divied up the cooking tasks and it was a treat to try other peoples' specialties. The highlight of the week was really fantastic sushi dinner prepared by Esme's three teenage and one eight year old cousins.
Our last big meal together was a simple dinner for 10 at our place, post cottage. We grilled some sausages on the barbeque, and I made the watermelon salad that I posted last week as well as this bread salad. But it's more fun to call it by it's Italian name: Panzanella! Believe me, Laura and I also think it's funny and kind of weird that I seem to be the one doing lots of Italian dishes. Don't worry, we're working on her Mom to bust out some family recipes soon.
The great thing about this salad is that contrary to what you might think, it can sit for awhile as you're making other parts of dinner — it does get a bit soggy, but you want it to. In fact, it's even great the next day for leftovers.
4 cups of slightly stale crusty bread (I used most of whole wheat baguette but you could use white if it's what you've got)
4 tomatoes roughly chopped
1 cucumber peeled and roughly chopped
1 yellow pepper
1/2 red onion finely sliced or chopped
1/2 cup pitted black olives (I omitted this as our other salad had black olives but this salad is great with them, too)
1/2 cup or so of shaved parmesan (I use a vegetable peeler)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Toss all of the salad ingredients in your salad bowl first so that everything is evenly distributed. There will be more dressing than you need, but you'll need more than you'd use for a regular salad as the bread will drink it up. Keep adding the dressing and tossing and tasting. You want to the bread to be moist and soften but not drowned by the dressing.
Esme seems to be recovering from the withdrawal pains of life without her cousins (not to mention her Oma, Opa, Uncles and Aunts. But she's already asking when we're doing it again…