Use Up That Sourdough Bread: Make Panzanella
Because I make a lot of sourdough bread, I inevitably have leftovers that I need to use. One of the best ways is to make sourdough croutons. Just cut up the bread into squares, put them on a baking sheet, and toast them at 325-350 degrees until they're crunchy--15-30 minutes depending on how fresh the bread is to start. You can toss the bread cubes in olive oil and spices before you toast them, but I generally don't bother.
So then you have a lot of croutons. What do you do with them? Make Panzanella, which is simply a bread and tomato salad, the Italian way to use up leftover bread. The toasted sourdough bread pieces soak up the dressing and provide incredible flavor to the simple salad. Fresh mozzarella adds creamy texture, and basil lends a sweet-spicy taste. You can serve the Panzanella over salad greens, if you like. If you have them on hand, feel free to add cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, and other vegetables. Nonetheless, the additions aren't really necessary. The salad will be good "as is," and it's great the next day for lunch.
Sourdough Panzanella Salad -- Serve 4
2-3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of lemon-pepper
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
12 small tomatoes quartered (Compari or a similar size--or just use big tomatoes and cut them up
into bite-sized pieces)
15-20 fresh basil leaves sliced into smallish pieces
3/4 - 1 cup of fresh mozzarella "pearls" or other fresh mozzarella cut into bite-sized pieces
1-2 cups of toasted sourdough bread cubes/croutons (depending how much you need to use up
and how "bready" you like your salad)
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt, lemon-pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and mustard until well combined. Add the tomatoes, basil leaves, mozzarella, and bread cubes and mix everything well. Let the salad sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour so that the bread can soak up the dressing and tomato juices. Serve the salad cold or at room temperature.