Recipe: Panzanella {Tuscan Bread Salad}

When it comes to food, most of the world admits that the Italians are really on to something. I personally, would be willing to say that the entire Mediterranean area has hit a culinary jackpot, but that could just be my preternatural love for olive oil speaking. 

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My parents were recently staying with friends in Tuscany, where they took ridiculously beautiful, drool-inducing pictures like this: 

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Which they would then text to their poor children, woefully stranded in dismal, sad San Diego, (I hope you are catching my sarcasm here. If not, see my last post) to gleefully gloat over the amazing time they were having. 

In the meantime, they were also eating very well, mostly thanks to our good friend and their hostess, Adina. Adina is the type of chef who is so unfailingly gifted that if she gave me a bowl of mud and said "eat this, it tastes good", I would. No questions asked. And it probably would taste amazing, because she would know where to get the finest Tuscan mud, just like she knows where to get the finest everything else - prosciutto, tomatoes, asiago, mozzarella, and more.

So if Adina gives us a recipe, we know it's a keeper. Turns out she gave my mother several recipes while in Italy, a handful of which we made a few nights ago for a Tuscan dinner. To say it was good is an understatement, because we eat a lot of good dinners, but not many that leave 6 adults arm wrestling for leftovers.  

So without further ado: Panzanella, a Tuscan bread salad made with a wonderfully simple array of kitchen staples. The bread is toasted with olive oil, then tossed with lightly sautéed fresh tomatoes, garlic, and basil, and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. For best results timing is key - toss the salad together right before serving, preferably while the bread is still hot from toasting. But the recipe itself comes together so quickly, timing is hardly a challenge.