Panzanella Salad

Panzanella, while generally a summer dish during the height of tomato season, is also a great way to use up the last of early fall's puny tomatoes.

From what I understand, the dish was created for using up day-old bread, though typically I purposely buy a loaf of fresh bread specifically for making Panzanella and dry it out in the oven. It's basically a deconstructed bruschetta - tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil - just about any typical Italian ingredient is welcome here. I keep meaning to try it with chunks of salami and pearls of Mozzarella.

You will need:
1 loaf crusty bread (Italian or French)
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
2 pints cherry tomatoes or 8 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks and seeded if you have the patience*
1 small red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced or grated
6 ounces Parmesan, grated  
3 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic or white wine vinegar
Handful basil
Handful parsley
2-3 hours before serving, prepare tomatoes. If using whole tomatoes, place chopped tomatoes into a strainer fit over a bowl. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Add onions, garlic, basil and parsley. Place in the refrigerator and let tomatoes drain for 2-3 hours.
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Cut bread into 1-2 inch cubes and arrange on a sheet tray. Drizzle on 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Toss bread cubes to coat and place in oven for 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, remove tomatoes from fridge and adjust seasonings if necessary. Discard tomato juices. Add oil, vinegar and Parmesan and toss to combine. Once bread chunks have cooled, toss bread with tomato mixture. Serve immediately.

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