I picked my first zucchini Sunday and my first cucumber of the season a couple of days before that. What better way to showcase both flavors than in this summery bread salad from “Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals – From My Home to Yours” (HarperCollins, $29.99) by Mario Batali.
Cucumber and Zucchini Panzanella
2 large English cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut int 1/4-inch rounds
2 medium zucchini, sliced as thinly as possible, preferably on a mandoline
1 medium red onion, halved and sliced paper thin
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar, or less to taste
20 fresh basil leaves, torn
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound day-old crusty, peasant-style whole-grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the cucumbers, zucchini and onions in a large salad bowl. Add the oil, vinegar and half of the basil. Season with salt and pepper, and allow to stand at room temperature.
Place the bread cubes on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 8 minutes, until warm and toaste but not hard.
Remove the cookie sheet from the oven, and toss the toasted bread cubes into the bowl of vegetables. Add the remaining basil, stir gently to mix, and allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Makes 8-10 servings as a side dish.
From “Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals – From My Home to Yours” by Mario Batali