Pronounced Pan-za-nell-a, this tasty Italian dish made with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and bread was given to me by Diana Marez-Bratton, chef at the "gourmet-to-go" style restaurant Cafe 1217 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. You can dine in or take home her great tasting dishes by the pound.
Of course this dish tastes best when you can get fresh summer tomatoes, but I like it so much that I prepare it out of season with locally grown greenhouse tomatoes that I purchase from the farmers' market.
Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees F. Slice the bread lengthwise and rub it all over with a whole garlic clove. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. You should end up with about 5 cups of bread.
Toss the bread cubes with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and then spread them out on a cookie sheet. Top with a few grinds of fresh cracked black pepper and toast in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.
While the bread is toasting, combine the minced garlic with the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. Whisk in the vinegar and lemon juice. To this add the tomatoes, mozzarella, salt, red pepper flakes, basil and a little cracked pepper to suit your taste. Allow this mixture to macerate for about 30 minutes.
Just before serving add the toasted bread to the tomato and mozzarella mixture.
Recipe provided by Diana Marez-Bratton.
Time to prepare: 1 hour.