an italian-style bread salad: panzanella

panzanella (Italian bread salad)
I was in a hurry and needed to throw together a quick lunch for two and the cupboard was almost bare. Almost bare, but not quite. Even when I am down to the basics and a few crumbs, I will always have a chunk of bread (since I bake about twice a week), a heap of tomatoes (whether fresh, tinned or dried) and a few jars of olives. This is life in the Kelly household; you can never go hungry.

Panzanella is a thrifty Italian salad using stale bread, which makes it a quick and delicious solution as to what to eat for an unexpected guest on a hot summer's day.

In the past, I have had some pretty ropey bread salads. This was largely because the salads were soggy with dressing, the texture of bread sauce, which I suspect is because the salad was dressed too far in advance. Dress the salad at the last minute; on a hot summer's day sitting out in the garden, you will have enough time to swig down a cool glass of chilled wine while the dressing lightly coats the bread salad.

I have also found that the tomatoes used in restaurant salads have no flavour whatsoever, which is terribly disappointing. When I buy tomatoes I have got in to the habit of putting them in a brown paper bag and leaving them on a sunny windowsill. I am convinced that while they ripen further, they are imbued with a sweeter flavour!


Skill level: Easy
Serves 4

ingredients:

½ x rustic loaf of bread (such as ciabatta) - about 3 slices, lightly toasted and torn into rough chunks
a mix of tomatoes - I like to use baby plum tomatoes, a few sun dried tomatoes and my homemade mi cuit tomatoes
8 x Kalamata olives, chopped
1tbsp capers, drained
4 x anchovies (optional)
½
x cucumber, deseed and diced
a handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
dressing
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sherry vinegar (or other wine vinegar)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a pinch of sugar (optional)


directions:
  1. The stale bread should be lightly toasted then broken up into large bite-sized chunks.
  2. Prepare the rest of the salad ingredients. You can de-seed the tomatoes if you choose to but I don't usually bother. Combine the salad vegetables with the bread and set aside while you make the dressing.
  3. Combine all the dressing ingredients. Check the seasoning. You may want a little sugar to sweeten up the salad tomatoes.
  4. Serve the salad with the basil leaves strewn over. At the last minute, drizzle with the dressing and toss to combine.  
tips:
  • I love a hearty panzanella on its own, but it is delicious served with a piece of grilled fish such as bream or mackerel.
  • Add a little cheese such as feta or manchego.

2 comments:

  1. Tip top,spot on.I´m pining for panzanella,so i´m off to the bread bin now in anticipation of lunch.Thanks for the pointer.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It looks yummy! I love the colours. Think should not read this when I haven't had dinner yet! :)

    ReplyDelete

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