18 hours ago
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
You know how I rave about an appetizer, then I make it a dozen times until I get sick of it? (mini BLT's, Brussels sprouts crostini, pickled egg w/ smoked trout.....).
Well, this is going to be one of those times.
This is the PERFECT summer appetizer or lunch.
And as usual, you can thank that loaf of stale bread on the counter for inspiration.
We are just 2 people and can't finish a big rustic loaf (this one happened to be from Balthazar Bakery in NYC), and I was too lazy to slice and freeze it, so it was a day old.
The best thing to do with day old bread is make a panzanella salad. Throw those stale bread cubes in with a nice vinaigrette and they take on a new life.
In this recipe, I toasted the bread cubes to make croutons, and threaded them on skewers with the ciligiene (mozzarella balls) and cherry tomatoes from my garden.
I drizzled the vinaigrette on 30 minutes before serving so the bread had time to absorb the dressing.
Panzanella Skewers: (makes 24 appetizers)
24 6" bamboo skewers or cocktail picks
loaf of rustic Italian or French bread, stale or not, cut into 1" cubes (same size as the tomatoes and mozzarella balls)
24 ciliegine in water (fresh mozzarella balls)
24 ripe cherry tomatoes
24 large fresh basil leaves
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
Make dressing and set aside.
Toss the bread cubes with olive oil and garlic powder in a bowl and bake on a cookie sheet at 375F for about 10-12 minutes until nice and crispy. This also works well in a toaster oven, done in a few batches.
Now your croutons are made and you are ready to assemble!
You can make as many skewers as you like, and thread them in any order. You can even put 2 mozzarella balls on one skewer! Be daring!
I like to have 2 croutons to 1 tomato and 1 cheese ratio, but sometimes I mix them up.
Wrap a basil leaf around each mozzarella ball.
Thread the skewers as you like and place them all on a platter.
30 minutes before serving, drizzle the dressing over the panzanella and let the bread cubes soak up the juices.
Watch them disappear.