Panzanella is a traditional Tuscan summer salad that lends itself to all sorts of variations. It’s tomato-based, usually with red onion, and always with stale bread or croutons. The bread soaks up the juices from the tomatoes as well as the dressing. If the croutons are toasted just perfectly, you get a satisfying subtle crunch with a burst of tomato, olive oil and vinegar.
I like to use different colored heirloom tomatoes, but you can also use cherry tomatoes (make sure you cut them in half) or whatever you have! They don’t even need to be firm, so you can still use tomatoes that are just beyond their perfect ripeness. And because our gardens are bursting with fresh veg in the summer, you can add bell peppers (different colors) and cucumber for extra crunch.
If you want protein, throw in some leftover roasted chicken, some cubes of salami, or some mozzarella. (I’m even thinking burrata…). This salad can be a whole meal, or a side. And guess what – it’s still good the next day because that bread is supposed to be sorta soggy!
Louisa will be offering a free Facebook Live cooking demo on this recipe for Thursday, July 8 at 5pm.
4 oz Bread (preferably stale – why waste the good stuff?)
¼ C Olive Oil (preferably extra virgin with lots of flavor)
1 teasp Salt (I like Kosher because of the bigger flakes)
Cut bread into 1” cubes (doesn’t need to be super accurate) and toss with the oil and salt.
Spread out on a sheet pan and bake at 350 for 12 minutes, tossing halfway through.
Your ideal crouton will be crispy and golden on the outside, but still softish on the inside. (But they’ll be fine even if they are just short of being burned.)
2# Ripe Tomatoes – make sure they’re ripe or slightly more than ripe
1 Small-med Red Onion, julienned (the amount depends on what you like)
Optional (if you’re adding lots of veg and cheese, consider adding more croutons and dressing.)
1 small-medium Cucumber
1 Bell Pepper or more – pretty colors!
A handful of black olives (I preferred the cured ones)
Mozzarella cut or torn, or feta, or slice open a burrata on top when you serve it
Cut all your veggies in smaller-than-bite-size pieces. (You want to be able to savor a mix of flavors in every bite.) Place them in a large bowl and toss.
½ C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ C Vinegar (red wine, champagne or sherry)
2 cloves Garlic (or more!) minced or grated
½ teasp Salt (or to taste)
½ teasp Black Pepper (or to taste)
Whisk all ingredients together and adjust for taste.
Dress the veggies and toss. Shortly before serving, add in extras – meat or cheese – and the croutons and toss well. If you’re doing a burrata, bring your salad to the table and cut into it right before it’s served.