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Panzanella Salad

Serves 6-8

For the croutons:

4 cups cubed bread (about ½ inch cubes)

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

5 cups halved cherry tomatoes (about 2 to 3 pints)

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 small shallot, peeled and finely diced (or ¼ cup fine diced red onion)

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves (from 4 to 5 sprigs)

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Place the bread cubes on a large, parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle bread cubes with the 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lightly toss bread cubes to coat in the oil and seasoning.

Place coated bread cubes in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until croutons are golden brown and crunchy. Remove and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cut tomatoes, red wine vinegar, olive oil, diced shallots, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Allow this mixture to sit for at least 10 minutes. The longer it sits, the juicier the tomatoes will be.

Toss the croutons with the dressed tomatoes in the large bowl. Allow this mixture to sit for about 15 minutes, stirring it up here and there to distribute the dressing. Transfer the tomatoes and croutons to your serving bowl. Roughly chop or tear the basil leaves and scatter them on top of the panzanella and garnish with a whole sprig of basil if you like.


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