I first made gazpacho, like many gardeners have done, when faced with a boatload of ripe tomatoes and not enough time to process them into all those wonderful recipes I’d spent the winter collecting. Though eventually I did get around to vegetarian chili, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, ketchup, salsa and plain ol’ chunks of tomato, this proved to be popular with everyone here. It plays a semi-regular role in our summer menu and I would happily eat it much more often, tomato lover that I am. But this week there were also fresh croutons on the shelf so they got tossed into the gazpacho and all of a sudden we had – panzanella! The major difference is that I don’t let it sit around long enough for the croutons to get soggy. They’re a great way to soak up all that wonderful tomatoey, vinaigrette-infused juice.
You can make this an exceptionally colorful dish by using heirloom tomatoes in all their wondrous colors, along with colored peppers. Any combination of fresh tomatoes will do. We’ve always favored golden tomatoes for their slightly less acidic flavor. Blanch and peel them if you prefer but it’s not necessary. You can use green peppers but fully ripened red, orange or yellow peppers will give it a milder, fuller flavor. For the croutons I use baguettes because they’re always in my freezer, but any unsweetened country-style bread will work. Bonus – croutons make a great snack.
– Joan, 1 September 2015
1 lb. fresh tomatoes, cut into 1″ or smaller pieces
1 pepper, any color you like, chopped into ½” pieces
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into ½” pieces
1 bunch (6-8) scallions, including tops, minced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ c. good quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons wine vinegar, your choice of red, white or champagne
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper (or black)
Mix all together in a large non-reactive bowl. Don’t be afraid to mix it all up with your hands, it really works best. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Serve cold or at room temperature over crispy croutons.
One 1 lb. baguette or other unsweetened country-style bread
3 Tablespoons melted butter
3 Tablespoons olive oil
chili powder, optional
garlic powder, optional
Cut bread into ½-¾” cubes and place in a large bowl. Mix melted butter and olive oil. Toss with bread cubes. Spread cubed bread in a single layer on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Sprinkle lightly with chili and garlic powders if desired. Bake at 400°F for 8-10 minutes, till lightly toasted. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.