Panzanella Salad with Mozzarella Fresca

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It sounds fancy, but panzanella is the epitome of honest, straight forward comfort food with a nod towards thrift.  Literally panzanella means "bread salad". In Italy, traditionally, it was a way to use stale or leftover bread.  It's almost always a summer affair, as the star of the show are the plump vine ripened tomatoes that get slathered in peppery, throat catching, emerald green olive oil...

BUT WAIT!  There's no dazzlingly fresh Northern Hemisphere extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over such a salad.  This will not be the case for at least another 3 to 4 months when local, in-season heirloom tomatoes are gone!!!  Hold on, don't start hyperventilating in to that paper bag! Your panzanella will be epic. We got you covered with the worlds broadest most decorated collection of, superlatively fresh Southern Hemisphere extra virgin olive oils which are just begging to meet your ripe heirloom tomatoes.  Tuscany, eat your heart out.

Salad

1 sweet or sour baguette  (torn in to pieces)
2 pounds sweet, perfectly juicy heirloom tomatoes, diced 1"
1/2 cup pitted olives, your choice on variety
1/2 cup torn basil leaves
1/4 cup torn flat leaf parsley leaves
8 oz. mozzarella fresca (you guessed it... torn)
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino
 2 tablespoons freshest UP Extra Virgin Olive Oil on the planet

Dressing 
1/3 cup freshest UP Extra Virgin Olive Oil on the planet
3 tablespoons Oregano White Balsamic
1 teaspoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves super finely minced 
fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Preheat the grill or your broiler.  Toss the torn bread with UP EVOO, and either grill it until nicely browned on the edges and crisp, or place on a sheet pan and broil until well toasted.

Arrange the bread on a nice platter or in a large bowl.  

Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together well in a large bowl.  Add the cut tomatoes and gently toss with the dressing.  Spoon the tomatoes and their juice mixed with the dressing lovingly over the top of the toasted bread. 

Scatter the mozzarella, olives, parsley, and basil leaves over the top of the tomatoes.  Just before serving top with grated Pecorino and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Serve immediately while the bread still has a bit of crunch.   

Serves 6-8