Tomato, Cucumber, and Mozzarella Panzanella

So I’m not actually a salad person.  This may come as a surprise, since I’ve just offered you blog posts about salad all week.  When I go out to eat, a salad is the last thing that I ever think to order.  I like salads, but I always feel like they’re so easy to construct at home that it’s silly to order one out.  In a restaurant, give me pizza, homemade pasta, or perhaps Gather’s vegan “charcuterie.” Something that’s a pain, if not down right impossible, to make at home.

When I do eat and make salads, I like them to have some substance, something special, basically, some oomph.  Please don’t just give me greens and some oil and vinegar. I completely sympathized with the ladies at spoon fork bacon when they said that this is a salad for salad haters.

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Tomatoes and cucumbers just scream for summer, and of course mozzarella classically pairs perfectly with tomato.  I have to resist the urge not to dip these tiny mozzarella balls in truffle salt and eat them all on their own.  If possible, they’re even better in this salad than they are on their own, just coated in truffle salt.  Summer isn’t here yet, despite my attempts to hurry it along, but we’re just on the cusp of tomato season in California.  Plus this recipe had burrowed its way into my head, so I found myself standing in front of the tomatoes in the produce section, completely oblivious to whatever was actually on my grocery list.

The recipe is pretty simple, but I made one delicious change.  I roasted a head of garlic (see how to roast garlic), and mixed the roasted garlic with the olive oil and herbs and drizzled the whole thing over my cubed sourdough baguette before roasting it for croutons.  It was difficult to resist the urge to slather the roasted garlic on the sourdough baguette and forget the salad entirely.  However, in the interest of many lunches to come, I did resist, and at lunch today, I was so glad I had.

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This salad will be a thousand times better in a few months, when I can pull cherry tomatoes off our own tomato plants, and grab a cucumber for the garden.  But in the meantime I’m happy to celebrate summer just a little bit early.


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