Tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes. What’s a girl to do? Well, I am absolutely up to this challenge and am thrilled to to eat tomatoes with every meal.
Panzanella is a classic Tuscan salad that is typically made with stale bread, tomatoes, basil, red onion and dressed with olive oil and vinegar. This version includes a variety of vegetables, but the technique involved is the same as the simpler one you may have sampled in Italy. Chunks of crusty bread are first soaked in water, then squeezed dry and crumbled in with the rest of the vegetables.
This panzanella would be perfect for a light lunch or a great side dish to whatever you happen to be throwing on the grill. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite panzanella memory-a mild evening in May, a table for six at Trattoria Gigi in Lucca, lots of vino rosso di Montecarlo, and a delicious panzanella salad to start our meal. Thank you Panini Girl Cooks In Lucca guests for sharing this great evening with me.
12 ounces day-old country style white bread, cut into 5 slices about 1″ thick
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into large chunks
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumber
1/2 cup chopped basil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast until crisp, about 10 minutes.
Tear bread into 1″ pieces and place in a bowl. Cover bread with warm water and let stand until the bread is semisoft-about 10 minutes. Squeeze bread gently to release excess water. Coarsely crumble the bread into a large bowl.
Add 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons vinegar and the minced onion to the bread. Season with salt and pepper and let stand for about a half hour. Add tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, celery, cucumber and basil. Whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar and 1/4 cup olive oil. Pour over salad, season with salt and pepper and toss. Serves 4-6