Panzanella: Italian Bread Salad
This is a great light meal or first course. Like polenta, and many other Italian favorites, Panzanella is traditionally a peasant food, which means it is perfect for people who are busy and on tight budgets. Usually a summer dish, due to the tomatoes and basil, it contains kitchen staples that make it an ideal year round treat. Additionally, it is a perfect meal for when you need something light. If you need healthy dinner during the holiday season, just assemble this dish and enjoy.
The key to panzanella is keeping it fresh. I prepared and mixed all of the ingredients, but the bread. I let them meld together for twenty minutes. Then, we placed the bread in bowls and covered the mixture over and served. The method also depends on how stale your bread is. We used my homemade garlic bread, which was a bit moist. I cut it up an hour beforehand so it could get crusty meeting the air. This moistness also meant that I needed to minimize the soaking time so that the bread didn’t get too soggy. If your bread is crusty, add it a little earlier or add more olive oil to help soften it. Panzanella is not a science, but with a little attention you can make a perfect dish.
- 3 cups of assorted ripe tomatoes, chopped into small chunks
- 1/2 medium onion , sliced
- 1/4 cup of fresh basil, chopped
- 1/2 cup of sliced black olives
- 1 tb dried oregano
- 3 tb red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup of a nice extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- black pepper
- 3 cups of 2-3 day old bread
Combine the tomatoes, onion, olives, basil, oregano, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and black pepper. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes.
Put about a cup of bread in a bowl, and ladle the tomato mixture over the bread. Serve at room temperature.