Yes, we are on a salad kick. This is because I gained five pounds eating funeral food and another two when Bunny and I took our whirlwind trip through the Presidential Court cafeteria at UT, feeling compelled to stop at each and every food station for a sample.
Since it’s tomato season, thank goodness, a panzanella salad is in order. Panzanella is just a peasant salad, really, that originated in Italy. It’s made with vine-ripe tomatoes and stale bread. Sometimes cucumbers, onions and basil are added, but I think that’s veering precariously close to gazpacho. Since Chez Mayhew rarely has stale bread sitting around, I make my salad with homemade croutons. Once you make your own croutons, you’ll never buy them again, I promise. Just take some sturdy rustic bread, any type, and cut it into cubes. Douse it in olive oil, sprinkle salt and oregano on top (or any herb you like) and bake them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until they’re crispy and beginning to brown. Obviously, use them on regular salads, but you can also crumble them for casserole toppings or just serve them in a bowl alongside drinks. They’re that good.
So for the panzanella salad, I’m almost embarrassed to call this a recipe. It’s not. It’s not even a procedure. Take a few tomatoes and chop them up. Add an equal amount of croutons. You don’t need any additional salt because the croutons are salty enough. Mix the tomatoes and croutons and let the salad sit for a few minutes so the tomato juice begins to soak into the croutons.
And that is it. It is super fresh, super delicious and super easy.