Panzanella has to be one of my favourite summer foods. It's an Italian bread salad that originated in the Tuscany/Umbria region. Must have ingredients include bread (preferably the saltless Tuscan bread), tomatoes, and basil. A dressing is made of olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. But there are as many recipes for panzanella as there are cooks. And the same cook might vary the recipe depending upon what is on hand when the salad is being made. This is why it's sometimes referred to as "leftover" salad.
After Sally got done with all my planting today, I realised that I had lots of basil ready to pick. Also had from this week's veggie box: tomatoes, fresh spring onions, cucumber, and bell pepper. DD#2 had bought us a baguette; capers are always in the pantry; Abbey had picked up kalamata olives and bocconcini at Fresh Market; and I've had a jar of baby artichokes just waiting to be used. Panzanella became our dinner plans.
Starting to gather ingredients:
Spring onions from the veggie box:
Chopped veggies, cheese and basil in a large scarlet Fiesta mixing bowl:
Bread added and tossed with dressing:
And served in a vintage Harlequin blue Harlequin individual salad bowl:
* good olive oil
* 6-8 slices (1" or so thick) of good French or Italian bread
* 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into cubes
* 1 cucumber, unpeeled, quartered, and sliced 1/4" thick
* 1 bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2" cubes (can roast, if desired, or use a roasted red bell pepper)
* 1 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
* 1 cup thinly sliced fresh spring onions
* 3 sprigs basil with large leaves, coarsely chopped
* 1/4 cup capers, drained
* 3/4 cup baby artichoke hearts, drained
* 4 bocconcini, cut in bite sized pieces
* 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
* 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
* 3 Tbsp pinot grigio vinegar
* 1/2 cup good olive oil
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Brush the olive oil on both sides of the slices of bread and grill the bread to toast each side. Cut bread into 1" cubes. Alternately, cut bread into cubes first and sauté them in a little olive oil until they are crispy and beginning to brown. Toss the bread cubes with the other salad ingredients in a large bowl.
Meanwhile whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.
Either toss the dressing with the salad and serve, or put salad ingredients in individual dishes and pass the dressing for each person to serve separately.
Notes: Other optional ingredients can include tuna, pine nuts, hard cooked eggs, celery, carrots, anchovies and lettuce.