Alright, alright, I know I am in the Netherlands and about to show you a recipe for an Italian salad, but this salad is so good tha you won’t be thinking Dutch for long.  Remember how I said that there is a bakery on every corner here?  This salad with homemade crouton was just beggin’ to be made.

I also may have let you in on the fact that Arne and I are larger humans now, thanks to the foodfest we had in Calgary/SK before leaving.  I truly do deserve the name foodlova.  We ate so much great food, that we weren’t even hungry for the last week of it.  Anyways, we made a pact to eat a salad every night for a week instead of the regular fare.  It worked out well and now we are both looking and feeling pretty much back on the lighter side of things.  A few 2 hour rides in the country didn’t hurt either.

Now I am liking the whole idea of a lighter dinner a few times a week.  I find since I stopped skating I am just less hungry.  I never thought that would be, but alas it has happened to me.   This was not one of the salads we ate on the diet week, though.  Actually, I’m not really sure why this is called a salad.  The only leaf it has to offer is a few basil leaves.  The main bulk to this masterpiece is the bread.  Big chunks of crunchy, yet tender, cubes of homemade ciabatta croutons. 

Day old bread is the way to go for this one.  I have used fresh and it is fine, but having left over bread is a great excuse to whip up this quick side or starter salad.  I usually serve it with some sort of meat.  You could do a steak, sausage or an italianized chicken breast.  Either way, make sure you serve it with wine because that is what an Italian would do, right?

Panzanella Salad – adapted from The Main’s Anthony Sedlak

½ loaf of ciabatta bread cut into large cubes

I large buffalo mozzarella ball torn up into bite size pieces

1 clamshell of cherry tomatoes or any toms you like (these ones looks so beautiful I had to get them! I used 3)

1 small bunch of fresh basil

**for this recipe you can really play around with how much of each ingredient you put in.  If you are using more just add another tbsp of both oil and vinegar and you can make heaps and heaps more if you’d like!

 Dressing:

3 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I had red wine vinegar and it tasted really good too)

½ small red onion finely diced

 salt and pepper

Toss the ciabatta cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread evenly over a baking sheet.  Bake in a 400 degree farenheit oven until golden brown.

Mix up the dressing and set aside so that the onions soak up a little dressing.  It will make the onion a little more mild and give nice flavour to the dressing.  Add salt and pepper and stir/shake.

In a large bowl, tear up the mozza balls into bite size pieces.  Tear up the basil leaves and add to large bowl.  You can cut the mozza and basil for less of a rustic look if you’d like.  Slice the tomatoes in half and add to the bowl.  When the croutons are ready, throw them in with everything else.  Pour dressing over and toss.

Important: let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving, so that the dressing gets soaked up into the bread a little.  This not only tastes awesome, but then the croutons won’t scrape the inside of your mouth as much.  Don’t worry, they still stay crunchy, but get a kind of tenderness that is just amazing!

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