If I could define this past summer with one recipe it would be the recipe for panzanella. So many things happened the summer of 2011, but what I'll remember is that the summer of 2011 is the summer I learned to make panzanella. And where has it been the previous 21 summers?
Well, the answer isn't so dramatic. It has been in my life in one form or another. In fact, I attribute my love for mayonnaise to a very similar combination of tomatoes and cucumbers. And there is nothing wrong with the mayo version of this salad. It's just that I'm kind of ashamed of my love for mayo. It seems that it has fallen out of fashion. Aside from deviled eggs (which also seem to be "nicht nicht"), nobody cooks with mayo anymore. I remember seeing a recipe for a chocolate cake with mayo in the list of ingredients. I am too much of a chicken to make it.
This salad is awesome because it's tasty! (Even Young Weezy wanted to get a taste. Silly Tigger, vegetables are not for cats.) And it takes no time to make. I know it's the middle of October, but Los Angeles has been really hot the past few days. I have no AC. When I get home I can't bring myself to turn on the stove. So, panzanella it is. You do have to turn on the oven to make the croutons, but I usually make a big batch in the evening after it has cooled down.
It's so simple, it seems silly to type out the recipe.
4 cups of tomatoes
2 cups of cucumber
1 small onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 pound bread
1/4 cup basil
salt and pepper
Chop it up, toast the bread, toss it all together.
No one is probably going to make this, but just in case here is a word of advice - if you're the only one eating, don't mix all the bread in at once. I keep the bread separate until about 15 minutes before I am planning on digging in. It does need to soak for a little bit, but no longer than 30 minutes, really. For the love of kittens, don't leave the bread in the salad overnight.