Salad Days – Panzanella
Salad made from bread? It may sound odd but the taste is satisfying and delicious!Panzanella is an Italian salad made of the things you often put in a green salad, it is just all those things minus the lettuce. Leave it to the Italians to figure out how take the best of something and make it even better!
This is one of those dishes that always brings a lot of oooh’s and aaah’s and very satisfied smiles because it is just plain yummy. Toasted, buttery, garlicky chunks of bread, ripe tomatoes, onion, and capers in a fresh vinaigrette…who wouldn’t like it? Try this one soon…you won’t be sorry
The bread you use can be French, sourdough or even ciabatta. It is best when it is day old but if you can’t wait a day don’t worry…it will still be delicious
1 loaf of bread, preferably day old
2-3 tomatoes, cut into chunks
Onion – this can be a bunch of green onion sliced, or 1 red onion thinly sliced
Capers or Kalamata olives – about 1/2 cup. You can use either or both if you prefer
Basil (optional) – If you are using fresh basil chop it into fine strings
3/4 cup olive oil
1 stick of butter, melted
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon seasoned salt (Lawry’s is always a good choice)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 -1 tsp. black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut bread into rough chunks larger than a regular crouton, about 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes. Combine olive oil and melted butter with salt and pepper and minced garlic. Toss this mixture with bread chunks. Use a bowl large enough to allow you to really toss the bread well enough to fully coat bread pieces.
Spread bread chunks on to a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven. Toast bread until browned and crispy, about 10-12 minutes. Check bread about half way through toasting and shake pan or use a spoon to move bread around so that it gets browned evenly on all sides. The croutons will become crispier as they cool.
Allow to cool completely. While the croutons cool, mix vinaigrette ingredients in the blender. Add tomatoes, onion, capers and basil to croutons and pour vinaigrette over all and toss to combine. Serve immediately. Buon Appetito!
Note: This makes enough salad for about 8-10 people as a side dish. If you are making it for a smaller group cut the proportions in half as this salad doesn’t keep well. It is better fresh when the croutons are still crispy.