Panzanella with Heirloom Tomatoes and Corn
Up until an embarrassingly old age, I hated salad. I had no issue with vegetables, but the idea of eating raw lettuce, slathered in dressing repulsed me. However, there was one aspect of salad that I loved; croutons. When presented the opportunity to create my own salad, it would consist of a bit of lettuce, a few vegetable toppings, and a metric ton of croutons. What I didn’t know at the time, was that I was actually making Panzanella, the bread heavy salad we all deserve.
Although I’ve gotten over my distaste for salad, I still love a good crouton. And by good, I mean homemade. Croutons are so crazy easy to make that there’s really no excuse to ever buy the artificially flavored, prepacked stuff they sell at the store. Croutons are the star of Panzanella, so it’s important to use decent bread, which I can always find at my favorite local bakery, Hartford Baking Company. Once you’ve made the croutons, the rest of this recipe is about assembling a variety of delicious, seasonal vegetables to create the most fresh, crunchy, satisfying salad you’ve ever had.
· 1 loaf good sourdough bread, such as Hartford Baking Company
· 4 tablespoons olive oil
· ½ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
· 5 ounces arugula
· 1 ear native corn—kernels removed from the cob
· 1 large shallot—diced
· 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
· 2 heirloom tomatoes—cut into 1-inch pieces
· Kosher salt
· Freshly cracked black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes. On a parchment lined baking sheet, toss the bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Bake the croutons for 15 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until crispy and golden brown.
3. While the croutons bake, assemble the corn salad. In a small bowl, combine the corn kernels, diced shallot, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Stir to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Spread the ricotta on a large plate using the back of a spoon. Top with the arugula, tomato, croutons, and corn salad. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve.