There's nothing like the first bite of a sweet-tart, chewy-crunchy, tomato-rich panzanella in the middle of the summer—except of course that moment when you realize that bread salads can be made sans tomato, all months of the year. After all, the beauty of panzanella is that you get to eat tons of bread and still call it a salad, right?
The Yellow Bell Pepper Panzanella in Michael Romano and Karen Stabiner's Family Table is a prime example of the form. Made mostly of caramelized onions and bell peppers, this panzanella has all of the vibrancy of the original without running the risk of eating a mealy tomato. Capers and a generous amount of torn basil are key to perking up the rich sweetness of the vegetables.
Why I picked this recipe: Panzanella is one of my summertime staples, so I was excited to try my hand at a version that didn't depend on perfect late-August tomatoes.
What worked: The sweetness of the slow-cooked peppers and onions was perfectly matched with the salty capers and tangy vinegar blend.
What didn't: I thought the ratio of vegetables and herbs to bread was a bit off. Next time, I'll use at least 3 cups of bread cubes.
Suggested tweaks: Although the recipe specifies yellow bell peppers here, you could use any mix of sweet peppers here (and maybe a couple of small spicy ones, too). A mix of red bells and poblanos would be particularly good.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.