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Summer Panzanella

This is an Italian dish that was made up to use what's leftover-- yesterday's bread, and all those tomatoes and eggplants from a Summer garden. Add cubed mozzarella cheese or cooked white beans at the end to make it a complete meal. It could also be mixed with some kale (cut in a chiffonade, or ribbons) to make it more of a salad.

 1/2 loaf day old rye bread, cut into 1/2" cubes (2-3 cups)
 4 tbsp butter, gently melted
 2 tbsp oil, separated
 Salt and Pepper
 1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stalk
 1 small - medium eggplant
 1/2 red onion, cut into half moons
 2 large cloves of garlic, minced or very finely sliced
 1 pint cherry tomatoes
 handful fresh basil leaves
 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
 2 tsp maple syrup
 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil
 optional: mozzarella cheese torn into small pieces, 1 cup cook white beans, and/or 1/2 bunch of washed and finely chopped kale

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and melt the butter (in an oven safe pot or dish.)


Toss the bread cubes with the garlic, the rosemary, the thyme leaves, half of the butter and 1 tbsp of the oil and some salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, shaking the pan once to toss. Allow to dry out on the countertop.


While the bread is in the oven, cube the eggplant into roughly the same size as the bread. Toss with the remaining butter and oil, some salt and pepper. Set on a baking sheet and scatter the red onion over top. Bake for 20 minutes, until soft and golden.


White the eggplant is roasting, slice your tomatoes in half, and slice your basil thinly. Make the dressing-- in a bowl, add the balsamic and the maple syrup, and then slowly whisk in the oil. Taste to adjust seasoning, or to add more oil or vinegar to balance.


While the eggplant is still warm from the oven, toss with the bread cubes and the cherry tomatoes. Dress with the balsamic-oil mixture, the basil (if using mozzarella, beans or kale add in here, too) and toss well. Serve warm.