If you consult Wikipedia, you will learn that Panzanella is basically tomato and bread salad, lightly dressed with olive oil and vinegar. If that sounds weird to you, well…It does sound a bit weird, but I assure you, it’s actually quite delicious!
This is a great way to use up any stale bread (the crustier, the better) you have. I wanted to make this for dinner Friday night, but because my kid’s two favorite lunches are both sandwiches (peanut butter and grilled cheese), bread doesn’t generally have the chance to get stale around here.
I ended up using some store-bought croutons and they worked perfectly well for this. You could also make your own, but I was feeling lazy. Plus, a big bag of croutons was cheaper than a loaf of French bread, and I love a good bargain.
If you are lucky enough to have ripe tomatoes in your garden, use them in this recipe!
And share them with me?
Seriously, this recipe is so simple that the freshness of the ingredients will really matter. I ended up using Romas from the grocery store and they were a bit bland.
BUT. This is still a great way to eat tomatoes when you’re tired of the same ol’ thing. My sweet boy loved it (though he mostly ate just the tomato chunks and bread), but The BF didn’t eat much of it… His loss, really.
So here’s what you need to make my version of Panzanella:
For the salad:
Tomatoes (any variety that looks best, really…I used 6 Romas) cut into big, but bite sized, chunks
A handful of Basil leaves (or more if you love Basil). Chiffonade it up!
Thinly sliced red onion (as much or as little as you like)
About 1 to 1 1/2 cups croutons
Optional: arugula/baby spinach mix
For the dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 small cloves garlic, finely minced or smashed
Salt and pepper, to taste
Toss all salad ingredients together in a big bowl (preferably one with a lid). In a seperate container, combine dressing ingredients and shake the daylights out of it. You’ll want to make sure the lid is on tight, otherwise you’ll be cleaning dressing splatters up for a while…
Or so I hear…
Pour dressing over the salad, give it another toss, then stick it in the fridge for a while. I think mine was in there for a couple of hours before dinner. You want the croutons to soak up the dressing, so it needs time for everything to just hang out and mingle.
It’s a perfect summer treat just the way it is, but you could also add some Parmesan or feta cheese. I wanted to add feta, but I forgot to buy some. SO SAD.
Go to your garden (or your farmer’s market, or your grocery store, or steal from your neighbor’s garden…wait, no, don’t do that), gather your ‘maters, and make this salad. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.