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Newer Panzanella aka Bread Salad

September 5, 2012

The past two weekends, we had old friends visit for dinner. Now that we have a house that can hold groups and there is room for kiddos to run in the yard, we love having people over. I’ve tried a few approaches to cooking big meals, from grilling to chili. Recently, due to unseasonably cool and rainy weather we ditched the grill and tried a new approach to an old classic: The PASTA dinner.

The nice thing about doing a large pasta dinner is the relative ease in making the ingredients. The secret however is to not fall back on spaghetti, since your guests can enjoy that at home. When doing a pasta dinner, I try a few things to make guests happy.

First, I make sure we try a unique approach to the basic pasta. I use a more unusual pasta shape, such as gemelli. We use gourmet pasta, so that the fresh taste can dominate. We tend to be very budget minded in everything we do, but when having guests, its fine to pay an extra dollar for pasta. In the summer, I lighten up the pasta by not using tomato paste, instead adding 1 tb red pepper flakes to my basic pasta recipe. This gives flavor without heaviness. Serafina even loves the light “spicies” in the sauce.

Second, we offer variety. Being vegetarians, I like to make several sides so that people don’t even realize they are having a meatless meal. In fact, both meals were vegan, and our guests didn’t even seem to notice. I prepared Panzanella and a side of asparagus. The Panzanella is posted here, and I will later post our Asparagus and White Bean Salad.

Panzanella is Italian Bread Salad, which people always love. I actually have a previous recipe, but I prepared this one differently, so I decided to post it. The key to making a delicious panzanella requires juicy tomatoes and good bread. Many people like the bread to be stale, but if you get a crusty and sturdy bread like ciabatta, that can work. Also, do not buy chopped olives. Instead, chop your own. They just taste better, and messily chopped olives are a much better texture for Panzanella. If you don’t like olives, add capers, roasted sweet peppers, white beans or whatever you like.

Panzanella

  • 1 lb of heirloom tomatoes, a variety of colors, chopped
  • 1 loaf of ciabatta bread, sliced and chopped
  • 1 can of pitted olives,
  • 1/2 cup of onion
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

1. In a large bowl, toss your chopped tomatoes and bread.

2. Chop your olives, no need to be neat, and throw in with the tomatoes.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, basil. Pour olive oil over the tomato/bread mixture (You should have salt/pepper/basil left in the bowl).  Stir in. Then, add the rest of the olive oil to the small bowl, whisk in the remaining salt/pepper/basil. Mix in with the Panzanella.

4. Let the flavors soak together for 30 minutes, serve at room temp.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nicole Roth permalink
    September 5, 2012 9:08 pm

    I was one of the lucky guests at this dinner. I can attest that this salad was extremely tasty! I think this is going to be a staple at our house now.

    • September 5, 2012 9:20 pm

      Thanks Nicole! It is super easy and tasty, and a perfect unexpected side!
      We absolutely loved having you. We can’t wait for the next Roth/Minard playdate. We will have to drive down to see you soon, but always know that the four of you are more than welcome to visit!

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