Panzanella

A simple Tuscan salad that cleans up stale bread and veggies kicking around the kitchen…

DSCF5496This is one of my favourite salads of all time. Ripe tomatoes with crispy bread, parmesan cheese, a little olive oil and anything else you can find to put in. A lot of times, people will add anchovies as well, but being that there weren’t any kicking around in the kitchen, we did without.

The recipe calls for rustic Italian bread, but any bread will do really (except, say, Wonder Bread). The loaf I used was pretty fresh, so I just chopped it up into pieces and popped it in the oven for 30 minutes at 275°f. Once you put everything together, it’s worth letting it sit for an hour or so, allowing the stale or crunchy bread to soak up some of the oil and tomato juices. It can be served as a side dish or on its own.

INGREDIENTS

• 3 thick slices of rustic Italian bread, cut or torn into about one-inch cubes

• 1 1/2 pounds of mixed Heirloom tomatoes (any tomato will work, just make sure they are very ripe)

• 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

• 1/2 long English cucumber, cut into cubes• 20 leaves of fresh basil, chopped fine (plus some whole for garnish)

• Parmesan cheese

• Olive oil to taste

Balsamic reduction

• Salt & pepper

METHOD

Short Cut Bread: Toss your bread in a little olive oil and salt, then pop it onto a tray and roast it in the oven at 275°f for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool before adding to salad. 

Chop up all the vegetables and add to a large bowl, then drizzle a little olive oil over and toss to mix. 

Add the bread, basil and parmesan cheese, toss again.

Drizzle with balsamic reduction and season with salt and pepper, then toss to mix.

Let stand for at least an hour, then before serving drizzle a little balsamic reduction on a plate, stack the salad on top, grate a bit of parmesan over it, crack some pepper and throw a few basil leaves on for looks. Serve on its own or as a side.

TIPS

*Some recipes recommend tossing the bread in the dressing first and allowing it soak, which totally works. We didn’t use a dressing per se, but you could toss it in the balsamic reduction and some olive oil.

*No need to be gentle with the bread. It’s meant to be rustic, so don’t stress about getting each piece the same size. Just chop or tear and get on with it. 

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