Panzanella

Posted on: Thursday, May 17, 2012

Colorful, vibrant food is instantly appealing. Looking at a wall of penny candy or a heaping bowl of fruit, you are mesmerized by the abundance of color. If it’s appealing to the eye, it must be appealing to your taste buds. We felt this way when we first created this summery, visually enticing side dish. Panzanella salad, a classic Tuscan summer dish, celebrates fresh garden produce. 

Classic panzanella incorporates stale, unsalted Tuscan bread. Since we do not keep stale bread on hand, we decided to char a French baguette. The toasted baguette inside the dish absorbs the vinaigrette while maintaining its crunch alongside the fresh cubed vegetables. The married flavors are a kaleidoscope of color and texture.

Panzanella Salad
 

3 T EVOO
1 baguette cut into 1-inch cubes 

2 large tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced into 1-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 c basil leaves, julienned
8 oz feta cheese cut into 1/2-inch cubes
salt and pepper throughout

Vinaigrette
1/2 c EVOO
3 T red wine vinegar
1 clove minced garlic
1 t Dijon mustard
salt and pepper throughout

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes, EVOO, salt and pepper and arrange on a baking sheet. Cook in the oven until nicely browned on both sides, approximately 5-7 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk all the vinaigrette ingredients together.

In a large salad bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, and basil. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Add the feta and season with salt and pepper. Let the salad sit for 20-30 minutes to allow the bread and vegetables to absorb the vinaigrette before serving. Serves 6-8.


We love to serve this dish as a side at any summer BBQ. It’s also great as a base for an entree salad with grilled shrimp on top. Don’t underestimate the transformative qualities of aged bread!

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