The classic Italian summer dish. A transcendent meal can be made from a little high summer produce and some old bread.
- fresh, ripe tomatoes (several kinds if you can buy or grow them- large or small. Apx 7-12)
- cucumber(s, if little)
- the best damn stale bread you can get* (2 or 3 handfuls of cruton-esque pieces)
- very small (or half a medium) fresh sweet onion
- garlic, 4 or so cloves
- white wine vinegar
- lemon juice
- olive oil
- red wine (already open, just for cooking or what you are drinking that night)
- pickled green peppercorns (secret, important ingredient here, available at Pastaworks, you can also substitute capers here)
- fresh mozzarella
- basil or parsley or celery leaves or whatever strong leafy herb
Dice the onion finely and place it in a non-reactive bowl (a glass pyrex mixing bowl is perfect). Peel and chop the garlic, mincing and adding it. Pour enough white wine vinegar to soak the onion and garlic. Add lemon juice till they are almost submerged. Add olive oil to really bury them. Salt generously. Let this hang out for at least an hour, seriously. You can get away with half and hour but an hour is better. This is the technique that gives this panzanella it's brightness, it's zing.
If you are cooking other food, work on it now; or take a walk, or read a chapter of your book. Wash, de-stem, and sliced the tomatoes. If using an english cucumber, no need to fuss over it. A regular one; peel a couple lines down the outer skin and scoop out the seeds before cutting. Little lemon cucumbers? Wash the prickles off, but no need to de-seed.
Smash/chop about one teaspoon of pickled green peppercorns. Add them with the tomatoes and the cucumbers to the onion, garlic, acids, and olive oil.
After 10 minutes or so for these things to become acquainted (and white you grate the parmesan, tear the mozzerella, tear the basil), add the bread pieces. Toss aggressively, splashing in red wine as you go. Try to get the wine to hit half the bread pieces. Toss in the parmesan, the mozz, and the basil/other leafy herbs. Drizzle with olive oil, taste, add more wine, wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, or black pepper to taste.