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  • Panzanella for a Crowd

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  • 1 baguette, sliced into 3/4-inch thick slices
    3 pounds of vine-ripened local tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
    Heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
    Freshly ground black pepper
    2 sweet bell peppers (green, yellow or red), seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    2 sweet onions, peeled and diced
    2 cups pitted black olives, coarsely chopped
    1 local cucumber, peeled and chopped (if too seedy, then scrape it out before chopping)
    1 cup shredded Parmegiano Regiano.
    Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
    Up to several days before serving, grill the bread slices over hot coals until golden brown (with dark grill marks) on both sides; when cool, break each slice into 3 or 4 pieces; set aside in a zip-close bag.
    Prepare the vinaigrette and refrigerate for up to a week ahead of time.
    About 30 minutes before serving, place the pieces of bread in a very large salad bowl (large enough to accommodate all of the ingredients). Pour the tomatoes (with their juice) over the bread and sprinkle lightly with the salt and pepper; set aside.
    When ready to serve, toss the bread and tomatoes together, then add the peppers, onions, olives, cucumber and Parmegiano Regiano. Toss to combine the ingredients, then add some of the vinaigrette and toss again. Add more vinaigrette until the right balance of dressing to salad is reached. Delicious served at room temperature or lightly chilled.
    VINAIGRETTE: Whisk together 2/3 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup Dijon-style mustard, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 5 cloves finely minced or pressed garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Whisk in 11/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil. Adjust seasonings and set aside. Makes about 21/4 cups of vinaigrette (about 20 servings).
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