Panzanella Salad is a combination of bread soaked in a light dressing with tomatoes and mixed vegetables. It is a great way to use leftover day old bread and from researching it that is exactly how this recipe came about, out of necessity to use up the bread that had gone just a little bit stale.
This is my ’go to’ salad during the summer when I don’t want yet another green lettuce salad. With both starch and veggies in this dish, you have two food groups covered and all you need to do is throw some protein on the BBQ and you are good to go. This goes well with chicken, steak and fantastic with sockeye salmon! Also pares well with a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio.
This is one of those recipes that doesn’t really need a recipe and there are so many versions out on the internet that really there is no one way to make Panzanella Salad except the way you want it. My Italian friends may disagree with me on this one.
Here is the version I threw together the other night. This serves 4 for a side dish or 2 for a main.
- 1/2 a loaf of day old bread (Italian, French Baguette etc. not sandwich bread) cut it into 1 inch cubes. If your bread isn’t ‘old’ enough and still quite fresh you can cut it into cubes, toss it lightly in olive oil and then quickly ‘toast’ it in a fry pan on the stove until slightly crispy. Wait for it to cool down completely before assembling your salad.
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes sliced in half or thirds depending on their size - I find these are the best as they don’t have a lot of internal juices which can really make the salad too soggy. Plus they are super cute and easy to cut into bite size pieces. I got these beautiful ones at the market which had a bit of green and red in them.
- 2 cups chopped red, yellow and/or green peppers – choose a combination of all three for a lovely colored salad
- 1 cup cubed cucumber
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 3 -4 tbsp capers
- 3 or 4 basil leaves chopped
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- Salt & pepper to taste
Mix dressing ingredients until emulsified.
Put all ingredients into a large bowl except basil. Slowly pour dressing over mixture and toss until completely coated. You may not need to use all the dressing depending on how much your bread soaks up. You don’t want the bread to be soggy, but just enough to give it a slight softness.
Leave in fridge for about 1 hour to get all the flavors to meld.
Just before serving sprinkle with the fresh basil.