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      Mary Anne's Panzanella di Firenz

      An Italian Bread andTomato Salad from Florence

      Don't know what to dowith all of your homegrown tomatoes? Panzanella, a delicious savory salad that hails from Florence, Italy, might just be the answer toyour over-abundant supply of those tasty red ones. For a change ofpace, place your bread cubes on a baking sheet, brush them lightlywith garlic olive oil and toast in a preheated 350 degree F. ovenuntil golden.

      Dressing:

      6+Tablespoons champagne wine vinegar

      2-3garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with a pinch salt

      2-3Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

      Saltand freshly cracked pepper, to taste

      1/2cup extra-virgin olive oil

      1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

      Salad:

      5to 6 cups day-old French or Italian bread, cubed

      2-3large vine-ripened red tomatoes, diced

      1-2stalks green onions, sliced thin

      1/2small red onion, sliced thin

      1red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced small

      2-3Tablespoons capers, drained

      Dashof Italian Seasoning

      8ounces salami, ham or some other deli meat, cubed, optional

      Handfulfresh basil leaves, washed well, spun dry, and coarsely chopped

      1/2-3/4 cup freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese

      1/2cup Kalamata or black olives, sliced in half, optional

      • Ina large salad or pasta bowl, whisk together vinegar, garlic paste,lemon juice, salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil and Dijon mustarduntil the dressing thickens or becomes emulsified.
      • Addremaining ingredients, and, if using, salami or other deli meat. Donot add basil, cheese and olives. Toss to combine well. Add more oilor wine vinegar to taste if needed. Let salad stand at roomtemperature 30 minutes to allow bread to soak up some dressing. Right before serving add the freshly chopped basil and cheese. Tosswell again. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Top with olives,if using, and serve.
      Serves 10 to 12.

      Note: If your red onion is too strong for your taste, slice it in half andsoak it in a medium- size bowl filled with ice cubes and water forabout 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, pat dry andproceed as your recipe's directions dictate.

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