Traditional Panzanella – Bread Salad Recipe
My wife has been on a bread kick as of late. My daughter Bailey and I like bread, but don’t consume much. Brenda is hell bent on trying all the bakeries that make real sourdough bread (which means fermented as they did in the old days) and this latest obsession has left me with staring at a lot of stale bread.
It’s August and the tomatoes are getting ripe. I put all this stale bread to good use by making one of my favorite summer dishes, Panzanella. This tomato and bread salad is both refreshing and filling. Best part, it’s minimal time in front of a burner during the hot days and nights. I also have an affinity for this salad because it always reminds me of hot summer days in Tuscany.Print
Easy Panzanella and Tomato Salad
- Cube stale bread with a serrated knife. For a more rustic take, break off pieces with your hands. Pieces shouldn’t be too small. Put pieces in a skillet, drizzle with some olive oil and toss over low heat until golden brown.
- I use heirloom tomatoes whenever possible. If not available, plum (Roma) tomatoes are my default. I like my tomato salads to be hearty, so I slice my tomatoes in large chunks. Put tomatoes in a colander with a bowl underneath. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt. Leave to sit for 15 minutes. The salt will extract the juices from the tomatoes. In the meantime, thinly slice onions (do not chop). Put sliced onions in ice water. This will take away the bite and leave only the sweetness. I prefer white Vidalia over red.
- After 15 minutes, remove tomatoes from the colander and put in a big bowl and add stale bread and onions.
- In the bowl into which the juices dripped, add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a dash of white wine vinegar, a bit of honey and some olive oil with salt and pepper to taste. Mix to make a dressing.
- Drizzle dressing over the tomatoes, bread, and onions. Add a few basil leaves, and toss.
- Offer some grated Parmigiano cheese on the side and pair with some nice cold white wine (a Grechetto from Orvieto is recommended)
- The dish is not only easy but also makes for a beautiful presentation (another reason to use white onions). It’s always a crowd pleaser. And maybe, just maybe, it will transport you to Tuscany, as it does me.
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