Panzanella

This latest recipe for our Barefoot Bloggers group was chosen by Melissa of It’s Melissa’s Kitchen. This was a wonderful choice for these last few weeks of summer, as it included many fresh vegetables and tasted bright and fresh. Traditional panzanella originates from the Tuscan region of Italy and the original dish includes just bread, tomato, basil, salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar. The dish has evolved over the years to include things such as vegetables, eggs, tuna, among others, and is sometimes referred to as a “leftover salad”, because, much like omelets, it’s easy to throw in any leftover vegetables you have laying around. The version we made this week included peppers, onion, tomato (which I omitted because I don’t like them), cucumber, basil, toasted bread, and dressed in a dijon vinaigrette. Absolutely delicious!!

The very nature of this salad makes it very quick to throw together, and is so fresh tasting. The only thing I found that I might do differently involves the toasting of the French bread. Speaking of which, I saved a small loaf of the French bread I made just for this salad. I found that either there was too much oil called for or the bread wasn’t toasted on a high enough heat, because it tasted like the bread soaked in quite a bit of oil.

Panzanella

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped

For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

2. For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

3. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Panzanella
(Source: Barefoot Contessa Parties! and the Food Network)

Serves 12

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained

For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.