I am getting ready to spend the weekend with blogger friends old and new at an event called the Big Summer Potluck in Pennsylvania. I am really excited :)

I didn’t want to leave before sharing this salad, however, since it’s the first meal I made with ripe heirloom tomatoes from my garden.

I’ve had panzanella (a “peasant” meal starring tomatoes and bread that hails from Italy) before, but I didn’t love it: I found it a little boring and the soggy bread didn’t appeal to me. So in this version, I did things differently: I used my favorite hearty multi-grain/seeded bread (which I toasted until very crisp), I loaded the salad up with avocado, raw, local corn and smoked mozzarella, and I served it over arugula.

I enjoyed this version of panzanella so much more than the last one.

I didn’t have any red onion, but I think that would have made a nice addition. Also, you could add some protein such as cooked grass-fed meat or wild fish, or chopped hard boiled eggs, to the panzanella for a balanced meal in a bowl. The bread does get quite soft, obviously, but cold leftovers of this panzanella are really good.

Recipe for Panzanella with Avocado, Corn, and Smoked Mozzarella

Yield: Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

* very sturdy whole grain or gluten-free bread, toasted and cut into cubes (I only used about 2 cups total of cubed bread, but many recipes call for 4 cups)
*1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
*1/4 cup minced fresh parsley (I used the flat-leaf variety)
*1/4 cup minced fresh basil
*5-6 large ripe tomatoes, chopped to equal about 4 cups (I used heirloom tomatoes from my garden)
*1 medium cucumber, chopped to equal about 1.5 cups (I used a cucumber from my garden)
*fresh corn from 1 ear
*1/2-1 avocado, diced
*1/2 red onion, chopped- optional
*1/2 cup cubed fresh smoked mozzarella cheese, or more to taste
*fresh lemon juice- optional
*pinch or two of coarse sea salt
*fresh ground pepper to taste
*arugula or other salad greens for serving the panzanella- optional

Directions:

1. Mix bread, olive oil, herbs, and vegetables (tomatoes and avocados are technically fruits but you know what I mean) in a large bowl. Gently fold in the cheese, and add fresh lemon juice to taste, if desired.

2. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then taste so you can adjust the seasonings, if necessary, Serve over arugula or other greens, and drizzle with additional olive oil before serving, if you like.

I am planning to have a terrific weekend, and I hope you do, too!