Independence Day – an historic moment in American history when our founding fathers gathered to sign the Declaration of Independence. This holiday is not complete without the annual 4th of July potluck.
Staple dishes include hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad and watermelon. Though these classics are such for a reason, it is great to switch it up every now and then. If you want to stand out at the 4th of July potluck, my recipe for panzanella alla perugina with fresh mozzarella is the route to go. It’s guaranteed to be a delicious and healthy addition to the serving table.
½ loaf ciabatta or another loose textured bread
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
4 ripe tomatoes
1 cucumber, peeled
1/2 small sweet onion, chopped, about ¾ cup
8 ounces fresh mozzarella
¼ cup calamata olives
4 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces, optional
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
Slice the bread into ½ inch thick slices and then cut the bread into ½ inch cubes. (You should have about 3 cups of bread cubes.) Pour ¼ cup olive oil into a medium bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of the pepper and garlic and mix together. Place the bread cubes in a bowl and toss with the oil.
Heat a skillet over medium-low heat until hot. Add the bread cubes and lightly toast, stirring and turning the cubes, until golden brown. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside to cool.
Cut the tomatoes into ¾ inch cubes. Slice the cucumber about ¾ inch thick and chop into pieces. Slice the onion into very thin slices. Cut the Fresh Mozzarella into ½ inch cubes. Pit and coarsely chop the olives. Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, Fresh Mozzarella, olives, and basil in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil and the vinegar. Sprinkle the salt and the remaining ½ teaspoon of black pepper over the salt. Toss and set aside to marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Just before serving, add the toasted croutons and toss briefly.
To serve, spoon onto individual salad plates.
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