Loaded with chunks of hearty bread and fresh tomatoes, this zingy and flavorful Tuscan style salad makes a satisfying entree for a hot summer day.
- 1/2 pound day-old bread – use a traditional Tuscan style loaf or hearty country loaf (see note)
- 1 pound tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces, reserving any liquid (I used heirloom cherry tomatoes for their pretty colors and sweet taste)
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced or minced
- 2 to 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Handful of fresh basil, torn into small pieces or thinly sliced into ribbons
- Optional extras as desired – crumbly cheese, olives, capers, cucumbers, bell peppers, salad greens, etc.
- Cut or tear the bread into bite size chunks. (see note)
- In a large bowl, combine the bread with the tomatoes and their reserved liquid, and the red onion.
- Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the vinegar over everything, and gently toss to distribute. Drizzle on the olive oil, and salt and black pepper to taste, and gently toss again. Give it a taste, and add another tablespoon of vinegar, and additional salt and black pepper, if desired.
- Gently toss in the fresh basil, along with any additional extras that you like.
- Allow the salad to rest for at least 30 minutes before serving, so the bread can absorb all those tasty flavors!
Ideally, Panzanella would be made with the aforementioned unsalted, Tuscan bread. Unfortunately, unsalted bread can be quite difficult to come by for most of us, so a good substitute is a hardy country loaf. If you choose a bread that is too flimsy, it will turn into mush before you get it to the table (not so yummy).
Be sure to let your loaf of bread dry for a day or two before making the salad. If you are in a rush, cut the loaf into slices, and allow to dry in a warm place for a few hours.
Many recipes call for toasting the bread in the oven to ensure it doesn’t go soggy in the salad. Although toasting the bread isn’t traditional, it is a tasty option (and one that I happen to like). If you are concerned that your bread is too soft, after you cut or tear it into pieces, toast it in a 400°F oven until just beginning to crisp and brown. Keep an eye on things though – you don’t want to make crispy, hard croutons.
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: Italian