Panzanella Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes & Basil

This flavorful salad is a wonderful way to use up the odds and ends from this week’s Niçoise.

Ingredients:
½ loaf of crusty bread, sliced and cut into 1-inch cubes
2-3 tablespoons olive oil, plus an additional 2 tablespoons to drizzle over salad
2 heirloom tomatoes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1-2 tablespoons shallot, thinly sliced
¼ cup Parmesan, broken into small chunks
1 pinch red pepper flakes if desired
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
2 tablespoons fresh mint, minced
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. Heat a large heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat, adding 2-3 tablespoons olive oil. Once oil is hot, add bread cubes and toss to coat and toast evenly on all sides, seasoning generously with salt and pepper, until brown. (Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to toast croutons in batches.

2. Combine tomatoes, minced garlic, Parmesan and shallot in a large serving bowl. Add red pepper flakes and then drizzle with balsamic vinegar and an additional 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add in bread croutons, toss, and allow to sit for 15 minutes for flavors to marry. Serve garnished with fresh basil, parsley and mint.

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