La Panzanella (Italian Bread & Tomato Salad)
  Goosecross Cellars Recipe for Zinfandel  
1 pound loaf of day old crusty Italian bread
6 large very ripe red tomatoes
1 cup cucumber (usually 1 large cucumber)
¾ cup julienne sliced red onion
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
12 fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon salt

Directions :
Cut bread into 1" cubes, about 8 cups. Using day old Italian bread is very important. French or sourdough bread won't work for Panzanella. Cut ahead and keep in ziploc bag.

Cut tomatoes into bite-sized chunks and place in large bowl. Be sure to keep all those great juices and scoop this into the bowl as well. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt.

Pour olive oil and balsamic over tomatoes and keep in refrigerator until 1 hour before serving. Remove at this time and allow tomatoes to come to room temperature.

Peel cucumber and seed. Cut into bite-sized chunks and set aside. Cut thin julienne slices of red onion. Wash and pat dry the basil leaves.

When ready to serve, place your bread in a wide, shallow bowl or serving dish. Cover the bread with the cucumber, onion, and shredded basil leaves. Just tear the basil leaves into small pieces with your hands, don't worry about being fancy.

Pour the room temperature tomato mixture over the bread and toss well to coat all the bread in the liquids.

Hint - splurge on some really fabulous olive oil!
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