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Monday, June 8, 2009

Panzanella Salad

A salad based around stale cubes of crusty bread that sit around and soak-up yummy juices...yes please! Panzanella salad can be anything you want it to be - essentially "Panzanella" means a salad made up of day old bread and any other fixins' you can find around, tossed, and combined so the liquids from the other ingredients (and the dressing) re-invigorate the bread cubes. It is crispy, crunchy, chewy, and a great way to mix-up your boring old salad repertoire.

I've seen some very inspired Panzanella combinations out there - and can think of a dozen or so that I'd like to try myself. A few that I've been dreaming up are Green Panzanella (Peas, Asparagus, Spinach...maybe with some Pesto??), Greek Panzanella (Tomatoes, Olives, Feta, Capers, Parsley), or how about a Fruit Panzanella (Melon, Berries, Peaches, Mint with a Sweet Balsamic or Honey Dressing??). Maybe someone should have a Panzanella Salad Bar?

This one is quite simple, and pretty "traditional" - which is why it is so good.

Panzanella Salad:
3 slices day-old bread, cut into 1" cubes
1 tomato, diced
4" of an English cucumber, diced or sliced
1/4 red onion, sliced super thin
handful pitted kalamata olives, diced
1/2 a big ball of fresh mozzarella, diced (or feta, or goat cheese...or leave out)
1 handful fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
8 cranks of black pepper
2 big pinches of sea salt

Toss everything - Bread through Basil together in a bowl.
Drizzle over olive oil & vinegar then salt & pepper.
Toss and taste for salt, pepper, and dressing. Some bread really soaks up more of the olive oil & vinegar than others so you may have to add a few more drizzles. You don't want it to be wet, just everything to be thoroughly tossed with the dressing.

Eat right away, or let sit up to an hour or so (depending on how hard your bread is) - in either case, serve at room temp!

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