Cooking with Jonathan By Jonathan Jolicoeur

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In this weekly culinary column, I will be focusing on one dish – giving the reader a quick history of the dish, the classical preparation of it, and of course, my own spin on the classic.

This week I have chosen to cover panzanella salad – a salad of Tuscany (Italy) – which features stale bread and tomatoes. This dish is also commonly dressed with just olive oil and vinegar. Panzanella was based on onions, instead of tomatoes, until the early 20th Century.

Traditional Panzanella Salad

1 lb​Italian bread, day old, large dice
2 lbs​Tomatoes, ripe, large dice
½​Vidalia onion, sliced thinly
2 oz​Basil, sliced thinly
6 oz​Extra virgin olive oil
2 oz​Red wine vinegar
to taste​Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Add your bread to a large bowl and drizzle ½ of your olive oil and ½ of your vinegar over the bread. Toss to coat and let sit. In a separate large bowl add your onion, tomatoes and remaining oil and vinegar. Toss to coat and let sit for 15 minutes. Add basil and seasonings to the tomato mixture, then pour over bread. Toss to combine.

Jonathan’s Panzanella Salad

(for salad)
1 lb​Sourdough, day old, large dice
2 lbs​Heirloom tomatoes, large dice
½​Vidalia onion, sliced thinly
1 whole​English cucumber, large dice
1 oz​Basil, sliced thinly
4 oz​Extra virgin olive oil
to taste ​Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

(for vinaigrette)
3 oz​Extra virgin olive oil
3 oz​Basil oil
2 oz​White balsamic vinegar
to taste​Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place sourdough on baking tray and drizzle with 2 oz of olive oil. Season and place in oven for roughly ten minutes, or until golden brown. Meanwhile, add your remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss. In a separate bowl, place your balsamic vinegar and drizzle your oil in slowly while whisking. Keep whisking until all oil is incorporated into your vinaigrette. Toss your sourdough with half the vinaigrette. Toss the tomato mixture with remaining vinaigrette. Combine bread and tomato mixture and let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Whether you choose to prepare the classic, my twist or your own interpretation, remember that food is about bringing people together and that the act of cooking is about caring and as long as your heart is in the dish you prepare, the people you are cooking for will appreciate it (and you).

If you have any questions for me or would like to see me cover any particular dish in this column, feel free to write me, care of this publication. From my kitchen to yours, it is my pleasure to give you a peek into the mind of a chef. Thank You

Jonathan Jolicoeur is a chef at A Tavola – an Italian restaurant on Church Street in Winchester – which focuses on “farm to table” style of cooking. Jonathan was born in Somerville, lives in Woburn and has a degree from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.

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