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The other day, my friend Shannon and I were sitting at her table in her lovely home eating a panzanella salad made mostly of things from her garden. Her tomatoes were perfect, in all different colors and varieties, and I started to wish the whole salad were just the croutons and tomatoes and basil.

She said she liked the croutons the best too, and I thought it would be good to make my next panzanella with mostly those ingredients, like a caprese salad. All I did was take away the peppers and cucumbers, and added in some fresh mozzarella. It’s the best two salads all in one. I hope you enjoy it, too.

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panzanella caprese

half a loaf of soft, day-old bread, such as foccacia, or ciabatta
olive oil
3-4 good, ripe tomatoes
1 8 ounce (225g) ball fresh mozzarella cheese
12 or more basil leaves
balsamic vinaigrette (recipe follows)

1. Cut the bread into 1 inch pieces. In a large skillet set over medium heat, grill the pieces of bread until golden on all sides (or as many sides as you have patience to stand there and grill). Set aside.

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2. Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella ball into 1/4 inch slices and then cut each slice in half. Arrange on individual plates or a platter. Top with the croutons and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

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3.  For a variation, serve this as a tossed salad.  Simply cut up all ingredients in smaller pieces, and toss in a large bowl.

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balsamic vinaigrette

1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons balsamic vinaiger
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until emulsified.

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