Growing Season Salad

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An easy-going salad of at-their-peak vegetables, fresh herbs, bread cubes and organic cheese. Italians make an even simpler version of it, called panzanella, with just tomatoes, bread and basil. But thatís the beauty of this salad: the method is intuitive, the seasons steer the ingredients and you can layer the flavors and textures as simply or intricately as you like. In spring it might be a genteel jumble of blanched asparagus, dill and Parmesan; in summer perhaps a riotous toss of garden veggies, mixed fresh herbs and salty feta.

Either way, the salad gains main-course substance with the addition of stale bread. Youíll need something sturdy and dry enough to soak up the flavors without getting soggy. If only fresh bread is on hand, dry it in a toaster oven for 10 minutes then let it cool.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vegetables (blanched asparagus, beans, chopped cucumbers or zucchini)
  • 1 12 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes
  • 12 cup diced Organic Valley cheese (or shredded or crumbled)
  • 14 cup sweet onions, thin-sliced
  • 14 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Chopped fresh herbs to taste (dill, basil, mint, cilantro, or parsley)
  • 2 teaspoons minced, mashed garlic
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 5-6 cups bread cubes (stale, but not hard)

Directions

Toss all ingredients except bread in large bowl. If time permits, let the mixture stand at room temperature to develop flavor, tossing occasionally, for about 1/2 hour. Toss in bread and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

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