Summer, New Jersey Shore.  The water is gorgeous, the days lazy and peaceful and the weather absolutely perfect.  After a day of sitting in the sun and surf,  we wanted a light, refreshing supper out on the deck while we stared at the horizon.  This meal was simple to prepare, fresh, delicious and the perfect combination for a light summer dinner. 

Insalata Panzanella L’Estate

1 Loaf crusty Italian bread 
1 Red onion, sliced into rings
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, large dice
2 English cucumbers, seeded, chopped
6 Ripe Tomatoes, seeded and chopped 
Half jar small capers, rinsed
Handful fresh Parsley, coarse chop
Handful fresh Basil, coarse chop

Depending upon the size of the bread, you may need only 1/2 the loaf.  I used an entire 1 pound loaf of bread.  Begin by cutting the bread into cubes.  Spread them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer and bake in a 350 oven for about 5-7 minutes.  You want to dry them out sort of like a crouton.  

Prepare all the vegetables as indicated above and, along with the capers, combine in a large serving bowl.  Once the bread is finished toasting,  remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Once cooled combine the bread with the vegetables and the capers.  

Season aggressively with sea salt and fresh black pepper.  For the dressing, use your best extra virgin olive oil and either a nice White Balsamic Vinegar or a Champagne Vinegar.   Add the chopped fresh herbs right before serving.

~ Fresh with Summer Flavor, this take on Panzanella is a great lunch or light supper ~

What I love about this dish is that it’s the perfect accompaniment to a wide variety of wines.  While almost any crisp white would be lovely with this,  we opted for a dry, refreshing Rose from Castello Banfi and it was an equal success. 

In the glass, the 2014 Castello Banfi Centine Rose  is a bright salmon color – it’s pink with a sort of orange reflection throughout.  Like a fading summer sunset.  The aromas on the wine are enticing, with watermelon, strawberry and light floral notes dominating.  This blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet is crisp, dry and refreshing on the palate with melon, white peach, and berry notes combining nicely.  
The pairing here was wonderful – the fruit plumps up nicely against the fat of the olive oil and the crispness of the wine supports the acidity in the tomatoes.  Admittedly, I don’t drink a lot of Rosato,  but the Centine is a go to for me given its price and relative quality.  87 points.  About $11-$14.   Disclosure:  This bottle was an importer provided sample. 

~ We also tasted this with some aged Pecorino from Toscana.  Lovely!  ~


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