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Tomato Panzanella with Lemon Vinaigrette

When you use them ripe, right-from-the-vine, it’s the tomatoes that make the magic happen in a recipe. This recipe for panzanella, an Italian salad, pairs baguette croutons with the freshest ingredients of an Up North summer. It’s simple and flexible, so add and delete ingredients at will to serve as a lunch by the lake or as part of a wonderful summer dinner.

Ingredients

For Vinaigrette 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed
lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Zest of one lemon
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Pinch freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a small jar with a lid, shake together
all ingredients. Or whisk together first
five ingredients in a bowl, then slowly
pour in olive oil, whisking briskly until incorporated. Store, covered,
in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature. Shake or stir just before serving.

For Salad Day-old baguette or other flavorful artisan bread, cubed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Generous pinch of sea salt
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ripe heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 small cucumber, halved, seeded and sliced
1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup kalamata olives
Small handful fresh mint, chopped
Small handful fresh herbs, such as oregano, basil or thyme, chopped

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°F. On a baking sheet with a lip, toss cubed bread with garlic, olive oil and sea salt. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Gently toss remaining ingredients with baguette croutons and the lemon vinaigrette. Serve within 15 minutes so the bread maintains its crunch. Serves 4 to 6.