One of my favorite vegan restaurants is Eden in Bar Harbor, Maine. The menu consists of amazing seasonal dishes. I've got quite a backlog of photos from Eden to post for you on my vegan dining guide . We were lucky enough to dine there twice over Memorial day weekend. The food was spectacular, but my girlfriend always talks about a dish she got there last summer. It was just a simple panzanella salad that left such an impression.
The first time I had a panzanella salad was many years ago when I was studying in Spain. My professor decided to have a party. Each of the students was responsible for going to a shop and purchasing one ingredient. Then we all met later and built the salad. To be honest, I thought dipping bread in the tomato juice/salad dressing mix was weird. However, I was surprised to find that it was quite delicious. Though I occasionally order panzanella at a restaurant, I've never made it again until today!
A few weeks ago, I bookmarked a panzanella recipe from America's Test Kitchen because I thought we might enjoy it just as much. (Unfortunately to see that recipe along with their whole collection, you may need to share your email address with them. Test Kitchen is a great site!)
I picked up a nice loaf of French bread on the way home and cubed it. Then tossed it with olive oil and salt. Next I baked at a high temperature for 15 minutes or so, to develop some crunch.
The rest is mainly chopping. Though the tomatoes need to rest after being tossed with salt. This helps bring out the juice which is used in a simple vinaigrette dressing. Once the vinaigrette is made, it is mixed in with the crunchy bread cubes and left to marinate for a few minutes before plating everything.
Overall we both really liked this salad. Though to us, the shallot was a little sharp. Instead, I recommend some red onion or perhaps a Vidalia.