Panzanella: A Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes that is popular in the summer. This recipe for Panzanella would probably make the traditionalist very sad face, but it is molto delizioso!
According to Wikipedia:
Panzanella was based on onions, not tomatoes, until the 20th century.
Modern panzanella is generally made of stale bread soaked in water and squeezed dry, tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Onions and basil are often added.
Other ingredients—lettuce, olives, mozzarella, white wine, capers, anchovies, celery, carrots, red wine, red onion, cucumber, tuna, parsley, boiled eggs, mint, bell peppers, lemon juice, and garlic— are sometimes used, but Florentine traditionalists disapprove of them.
I used a modern approach to my Panzanella. I started with a multi-grain, seed bread, tomatoes, onions, basil, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. To that I added Kalamata olives, red onion, red bell peppers, cucumber, and celery.
My recipe differs from traditional Panzanella in another way, too. I didn’t soak my bread. Instead, I cubed it, crisped it slightly in the oven, then added it to the salad before I added the olive oil and vinegar. I love how the oil and vinegar soak the bread; they add a flavor to the bread chunks that can’t be achieved if they are already wet.
When preparing your vegetables, you want to try to get the cubes similarly sized. For mine, I used about a half-inch dice on the tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, and red bell pepper. I halved the Kalamata olives and sliced the red onion.
Simple, delicious and filled with the flavors of summer, this salad is one you need to add to your salad repertoire.
- 2 cups cubed (1 inch) crusty bread - (I used a multi-grain & seed Italian loaf)
- 4 Roma tomatoes, cubed (about ½ inch dice)
- 1 large cucumber, sliced in 1 inch slices, then quartered
- ½ cup sliced red onion
- ½ cup diced celery
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- ¼ cup halved Kalamata olives
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Put the cubed bread on a baking sheet and into the preheated oven for 5 minutes (You are just wanting the bread to be slightly toasted on the outside - this helps it hold up to the liquid it will be soaked in later)
- Remove from the oven.
- Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine.