During day two in the life of a loaf of bread, there is still hope of using it as your dinner bread if you moisten it and heat it at 350° for a few minutes. By day three, it is inevitably tough and chewy with a different destiny. It is now perfect for panzanella, the classic Tuscan bread and tomato salad. The aging bread soaks up the tomato juices. But you don't have to wait three days to have a simple and delicious version of this dish. Broken toasted pita pieces can be made any time. The fresh mint and lemon vinaigrette brighten the flavors. As always, use the ripest locally grown tomatoes you can find at your farmers' market.
The crispy pita pieces may get sampled by family or friends before the salad gets to the table.
- 2 big heirloom tomatoes or the equivalent Early Girls or cherry tomatoes
- 6 large mint leaves, coarsely chopped
- 4 scallions (white and some of the light green part), thinly sliced
- 2 oz Greek or Bulgarian feta cheese, crumbled
- Arugula or baby romaine lettuce pieces, enough for two
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 large or 2 small pita breads
Preheat the oven to 350°. Open the pita. Separate the halves. Toast them on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes until crispy. Break them into aesthetically pleasing pieces. Chop the tomatoes into bite size pieces and put into a bowl along with the juices. Mix in the chopped mint, scallions, feta and pita pieces gently. Whisk the olive oil into the lemon juice in a small bowl.
Salt and pepper the vinaigrette to taste. Dress the tomato mixture and toss gently. Mound the tomato mixture on a bed of greens and serve.