If you’ve never had a Panzanella, I apologize. You have been deprived of one of Summer’s greatest edible pleasures. Perfectly vine-ripened, juicy heirloom tomatoes. Fresh basil. Deliciously crusty bread. The best olive oil. You need it in your life… Yesterday.

This version of the original Florentine favorite is dressed up with the freshness of lemon zest and crunchy cucumbers, and has extra staying power with chickpeas.

Inspired by this Gazpacho Panzanella from Food 52.

Makes enough for 2-4

1 bunch basil, finely chopped

1 clove garlic (I’m not a huge raw garlic fan, so I browned mine in a pan with some olive oil)

3 medium heirloom tomatoes, sliced

1 medium English hothouse cucumber, 1/2 inch dice

1 lemon, juice & zest

1/2 can of chickpeas

1/2 a loaf of rustic, crusty bread

olive oil

flaky salt, such as Maldon

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mash together basil and garlic with a generous pinch of salt, to form a green paste (a mortar and pestle would probably work best for this. Lacking one, I used a sturdy bowl and the non-business end of muddling stick.). 

In a medium bowl, toss the tomato, cucumber, chickpeas, and lemon (juice & zest), together along with the basil-garlic paste, and several glugs of olive oil. Place in the refrigerator.

Tear bread into pieces about the size of a 1 inch cube. Toss with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until bread is crispy in the outside but still chewy. Allow to cool.

Remove bowl of vegetables from the fridge. Scoop out, and place in serving bowl. Toss with the chunks of bread. Dress lightly with excess juice from the bowl of vegetables. Serve onto plates. Enjoy!

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