Toasted panzanella salad with tomatoes and fennel

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4-6 ounces sourdough bread with crust, preferably day old, cut into ¾ inch cubes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
3-4 ea. tomato, cores removed, cut into ¾ inch cubes (1-1/2 lbs)
1 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced (about 10 oz. minus the top)
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
¼ cup black olives (kalamata or Gaeta) pitted and cut in slivers
1/4 cup basil, loosely packed, torn
1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped
To taste kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, toss the bread with 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil. Spread the bread on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until nicely toasted. Return the croutons to the mixing bowl. *(the croutons can be fried over low heat with the 2 Tbsp of olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter until they are crisp and golden brown).

Add the pine nuts, tomatoes, fennel, onion, olives and basil.

In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar with the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic and season the dressing with salt and pepper and pour over the salad. Toss and let stand for 5 minutes, check seasoning and then serve.

Yield: 4-6 servings