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Darlene Schrijver

Come late summer, you can’t do much better than a panzanella salad. Originating in Italy, it started with stale crusty bread soaked in water (then squeezed out), heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and high-quality olive oil to create the combinazione perfetta. I prefer to use homemade sourdough croutons that absorb the dressing and all that delicious tomato juice. Going to a farmers’ market for the ingredients for this one is worth the trip: The flavor and smell of a vine-ripened tomato is unbeatable.

1. Start out: Prepare the croutons. Meanwhile, fill a 500-milliliter beaker or a small glass bowl halfway with ice water and add the onion. Soak for 10 minutes, then drain and pat the onion dry.

2. Whisk: In a large salad bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, and pepper. While whisking, slowly add the oil until well combined.

3. Toss: In the bowl with the dressing, add the red tomatoes, mixed tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, basil, croutons, and onion. Toss until all the ingredients are evenly combined and coated with dressing. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary. Let stand for 5 minutes to give the croutons a chance to absorb the tomato juices and dressing, then serve.

4. Enjoy: I’m having it with a nice rosé or acqua minerale gassata.

Excerpted from The Salad Lab. Copyright © 2024, Darlene Schrijver. Photography copyright © 2023 by Erin Kunkel. Reproduced by permission of Simon Element, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, LLC. All rights reserved.