Panzanella oozes with freshness on a hot summer evening.

Panzanella oozes with freshness on a hot summer evening.

I made this salad last night to accompany spaghetti with clam sauce. Otherwise known as panzanella, Tuscan tomato salad is great on a hot summer evening when heirloom tomatoes are at their peak and leftover french bread is getting drier by the minute.

This version would have been better if I had had some fresh basil on hand. I used arugula instead. As I think about this salad (and what’s missing), it would have been nice to have had a plate of mozzarella and some prosciutto alongside. Next time I’ll plan for it.

Despite the arugula substitution, the salad was fine. In the next couple of days, we’re supposed to have temps in the 90s, and this salad would be perfect with the aforementioned proscuitto and cheese. I can’t be exact about the ingredients. Just use your sense of what makes a good proportion.

Tuscan tomato salad

About 4 juicy heirloom tomatoes, cored and seeded

A couple of garlic cloves, minced

Slices of red onion

Fresh basil leaves, cut into small pieces

Splashes of basalmic vinegar

Splashes of extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

Dry bread cut into one-inch cubes

Basil leaves for garnish

Combine the tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, red onion, vinegar and oil in a bowl. Toss gently to coat the ingredients. Add the bread and basil, and toss until the bread is moistened. Don’t do this too soon before serving because you don’t want the bread to get soggy. Serve immediately.

















Janet Cleaveland

Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 52 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

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