Bread salad?! Does that sound odd to anyone but me? We’re a huge fan of bread. House Sitting here in Tuscany has given us a whole new appreciation for fresh, warm bread delivered by The Bread Man. But Bread Salad, just somehow didn’t seem quite right. Until we had our first taste!
Panzanella or Tuscan Bread Salad was originally thought of as a recipe to use up the slightly stale bread leftovers and turn them into a filling and delicious peasant meal. It was cheap and a little bread goes a long way. It became so hugely popular, however that most area restaurants now have a variation of this recipe on their daily menus and Jamie Oliver raves about this summer dish served with roasted chicken. YUM!
Here is our own version of Tuscan Panzanella! This easy recipe serves 6 hungry appetites and just tastes better the longer it refrigerates.
1 loaf day-old bread. Use good quality heavy Tuscan or large ciabatta bread loaf for best results
2 lbs ripe, juicy mixed tomatoes. We used a combination of cherry tomatoes and large garden tomatoes. Use whatever you have handy
5 sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
1/2 cup of salt-cured capers
Pinch of sea salt
1 small onion
Freshly picked basil leaves (more=better!)
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup passata
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Roughly chop the tomatoes into small, bite-sized pieces and lightly salt. Keep the juice for the dressing.
Finely chop the sun-dried tomatoes and the onion. The basil leaves can be torn into pieces to release their glorious smell. Toss the tomatoes, capers, onion, basil and bread together to mix well.
Now it’s time for the dressing!
In a small bowl, add the leftover tomato juice, passata, red wine vinegar, garlic, and 5 tablespoonfuls extra virgin olive oil. Whisk well until the flavors are mixed and season to taste with salt and pepper. It’s okay if it tastes a bit on the vinegary side, because once mixed with the bread, the taste tones down quickly.
Now combine the dressing with the bread/tomato mixture and toss. Add in the remaining 5 tablespoons of olive oil to moisten as you mix everything together. Give it a quick taste. Add more fresh basil leaves and ground pepper if necessary. Be prepared for a fantastic taste explosion in your mouth! Panzanella can be served refrigerated or not, but our favorite way is to let all the flavors soak together for at least an hour before serving.