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Simple Panzanella

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Tomatoes and basil.  Summer deliciousness!  I love these summer staples that make it so easy to produce a dish bursting with flavor.  I've made Ina Garten's Panzanella before, but I was seriously not in a cooking mood this particular night, so I threw together this much simpler version and paired it with my Cheesy Italian Meatloaf
 

I was able to put this together while the meatloaf baked making dinner ready in just about 30 minutes.  I wanted to point out that I used garlic paste.  This was partly due to laziness, but I also found it coated the bread nicely, almost soaking in.  I'll definitely use paste vs. minced from now on when toasting bread.

This dish, and dinner, was so much better than takeout, which makes me glad I stuck it out in the kitchen.  Bonus, I even managed to get photos!

I'm sure we'll eat this again before Summer is over, but I'm looking for other ways to use tomatoes and basil.  Do you have a favorite recipe you can share with me?

Here is what you'll need:
  • 2-3 cups of cubed ciabatta
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lb. small tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 English cucumber, cut into 1 in. chunks
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1 in. chunks
  • 2 Tbsp chopped basil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
In a large bowl, place ciabatta, 2 Tbsp olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss until all the bread is coated well.

Heat a nonstick pan to medium-high heat.  Add bread to pan and toast, turning over until all sides are browned.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add remaining ingredients to large mixing bowl.  Toss until combined well.

Add toasted bread to mixing bowl just before serving.  Toss gently until well combined.  Serves 3.

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