This is a recipe I got from Giada. As in “Giada de Laurentis,” from “Giada’s Everyday Italian” on Food Network. As much as I love cooking, I have to admit that I love lying on the couch watching other people cook even more. What do you think that’s all about? I’ll tell you what I think. I think it’s watching with the knowledge that behind all that cooking, there’s a crew just waiting to clean and tidy up for the cook. That’s pretty intoxicating. I can watch that all day long.
So Giada tells us she’s making Baked Panzanella Caprese. I know enough about those three words to know that I’m probably going to love this dish. And I do … sort of. The thing is, I didn’t like it at first, but I liked it more every time I went into the kitchen to dish up another serving. And I did that A LOT. I couldn’t leave it alone. So although my first reaction was, “Meh,” I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I ended up loving this in the long run. And pretty much finishing it (with help from Tera).
By the way, I used 3 cloves of garlic instead of the recommended 2, but that’s because I’m a little bit more Italian than Giada.
Giada’s Baked Panzanella Caprese
- Butter, for greasing baking sheet
- 2 very big tomatoes or 5 Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- a few shakes of balsamic vinegar
- fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices and patted dry with paper towels
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- a couple of handfuls of fresh basil leaves, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- several slices Italian bread
In a small baking dish (not a 9 x 11), layer the sliced tomatoes.
Take the mozzarella balls …
… and slice into enough pieces to cover the tomatoes.
Cover with chopped basil and minced garlic.
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Trader Joe’s mozzarella, Trader Joe’s balsamic vinegar, Trader Joe’s bread, basil and tomatoes … are you sensing a pattern here?
Top with bread, breaking to fit all gaps, and drizzle with more olive oil.
Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes @ 375.
While the dish is baking, look around. Did you leave any random pieces of bread when you were doing all that breaking and gap-filling? Any stray bits of basil lying around? I think you know what to do.
Here’s how it looks just out of the oven:
And here’s how it looks when it’s been cut, flipped over (so the bread is on the bottom), and it’s heading toward your mouth:
All in all, this is a nice little appetizer. I miiiiight cut the bread in bite-sized pieces first next time. But then again, I might leave it just as it is.