Panzanella with Lioni Mozzarella and Sullivan Street Bakery Ciabatta

I grew up in the part of Brooklyn that is still visited by TV shows for their culinary landmarks. Italian food is second nature to me. I didn’t know that mozzarella was sold in the refrigerated section until I started grocery shopping for myself and saw Polly-O. I grew up feeling as comfortable with pasta e fagioli as with my moms Russian soups.


A couple of blocks from the house that I grew up in (and my parents still reside in) is Lioni Latticini. I remember taking my husband there, when he was still my boyfriend, and being more nervous than when I introduced him to my parents. When I walk through the door and breathe in the air, it’s truly like coming home again. The fresh prosciutto bread, the pickled vegetables and olives and of course, the mozzarella.  I know that since the days of my youth, Lioni has grown into a big, fancy company, distributing across the US. My local Whole Foods carries them, but I’ll only buy it from Brooklyn. To me, nothing beats the flavor of room temperature mozzarella that was made within the past few hours.

Queue: children. My kids have the strangest affinity for fresh mozzarella. Around age 3, they each have been capable of devouring an entire pound ball of mozzarella on their own. Strange affinity indeed!! 

This salad is something that I make all year round, but it appears more often during the summer because of the abundance of ingredients that I usually have on hand. First is that it’s an all-in-one-bowl masterpiece… and my favorite part of any dish: it’s flexible! If I have freshly roasted peppers, they go into the salad. Capers? Throw them in! Fresh basil too! The only thing that I won’t compromise on is the quality of the mozzarella!

Cube up some great bread.
If it’s already stale, even better! Skip the baking step.


Tossing the bread with olive oil, garlic and salt

Ciabatta into the oven to crisp up
Respect for the simple beauty that is… cheese.
Dice the mozzarella
Pretty, pretty basil leaves
Fine slice on the basil leaves
(you can add more than 4 basil leaves, but I use less so that the taste isn’t overwhelming for the kids)
Finely diced shallot
Child labor for the tomato cutting

All ingredients into the bowl!
Panzanella

Panzanella

Ingredients

1/2 loaf of stale or fresh whole wheat ciabatta, cut into bite size cubes (this one was from Sullivan Street Bakery)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
sprinkle of kosher salt

1 pound Campari tomatoes, cut into bit size pieces
1 pound of Lioni mozzarella
1 small shallot, finely diced
4 large basil leaves, finely sliced/chiffonade
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
between 1/4 and 1/3 cup olive oil (to your taste)
kosher salt to taste 

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

1. Toss cubes of bread with olive oil, crushed garlic and sprinkle of kosher salt. Make sure to evenly coat. 
2. Evenly distribute on a baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until the cubes are sufficiently crusty. If your bread is already stale, great! Skip the baking step. 
3. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.

4. In a large salad bowl, combine tomatoes, mozzarella, shallot and basil leaves.  
5. Dress with vinegar and oil. Adjust for additional oil and salt to your taste. Enjoy!

Eat, Drink & Be Yummy!

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