It’s finally time to gear up for the greatest Holiday of all time—Thanksgiving! Number one on my thankful list? FOOD. I have been planning my Thanksgiving menu for probably a good 2 months, now (seriously, you can ask my boyfriend). He and I will be spending the holiday together, just the two of us, with enough food to feed Jon and Kate plus 8.
Growing up in my house, the menu for Thanksgiving didn’t just consist of dinner and dessert. Hell no. It was filled with festive, boozy drinks, an overly extensive hors d’oeuvre spread, a “change into your stretchy pants” dinner, and various desserts we were too full to eat, but stomached anyway. The in-between time was filled with football watching, game playing, and of course, more boozy drink sipping. Although I don’t often get the chance to spend Thanksgiving with my family, I do my best to create that same food and drink filled atmosphere whomever I’m with. Luckily for me, my boyfriend loves to grub, so I foresee a long awaited food coma in our future.
We’ve decided to each make a couple (or 5) appetizers, and this panzanella salad will be one of mine. Panzanella is basically just a salad using day old bread combined with some type of vegetable (usually tomatoes) with oil, vinegar, and herbs. The bread sops up all the juices and flavor from the rest of the ingredients, so the longer you let it sit and meld, the tastier it is. My family always has some form of caprese or bruschetta with crostini as an appetizer, and this sort of a combines them all. It’s super easy and can also be served as a side dish, so if you’re scouring for new menu ideas this holiday, give it a try!
- day old bread (I used whole wheat ciabatta)
- fresh mozzarella
- Italian seasoning (or herbs de provence)
- balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut up the bread into 1/2 inch cubes, toss with a little olive oil, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and bake bread until golden brown and crispy. Watch carefully as to not burn the bread. Transfer bread to a bowl and let cool.
Cut the tomatoes into small chunks and put in a large bowl. I used a combination of heirloom and cherry tomatoes (cut in half). Mince garlic or use a garlic press and add to tomatoes. Cut up mozzarella into small chunks (similar in size to the tomatoes) and add to bowl. Tear basil leaves into small pieces and add to bowl. Season liberally with salt and pepper and drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over mixture. I don’t measure when I do this, I simply add more vinegar or oil to taste. Start out with small amounts, as you can always add more. You want the mixture to be juicy so the bread can soak it up. The salt with help draw moisture from the tomatoes as it sits.
Add the bread cubes to the mixture about 30-45 mins before serving.