July 11, 2008

Panzanella - A Summer Staple

Leftover bread.
Sometimes I feel like I'm drowning in it. You wouldn't believe the amount of crumbs I clean off our kitchen counters on a daily basis.

Baguettes, gros pain, campaillettes, ficelles, pain de campagne...

The amazing variety of bread available in the boulangeries in France is a carbophobe's nightmare.
And a bread lover's dream!

So when you are surrounded by all this gorgeous bread you tend to buy it almost every day and occasionally, (unless you have guests or are eating something that just screams out for lots and lots of it) you have leftover, half eaten loaves that becomes stale within hours.

The perfect solution is Panzanella, an incredibly satisfying Italian bread and tomato salad.

I make Panzanella a lot in the summertime. It combines all that I love about summer cooking;
  • no oven necessary so there is no "cooking"
  • uses lots of fresh, local produce
  • takes almost no time to throw together
  • tastes wonderful with a cold glass of rosé

The recipe I've given here is merely a guide. I added some arugula and minced shallots to the most recent batch which blended well with the other ingredients.
The olive oil and vinegar amounts are to taste. I love a really vinegar-y salad, so usually add more than most people.

serves 4

about 6 cups of day-old, crusty peasant-style bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large tomatoes, trimmed and cut into 8 wedges
1 cup peeled and seeded cucumber, sliced
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1/3 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 4 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
a handful (about 15-20- I like a lot) of fresh basil leaves, torn up

Mix everything together in a bowl and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Pin It
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