Monday, August 20, 2012

Panzanella: My New Favorite Summer Salad

I know it's been quite awhile since I've posted a new recipe.  That's because I haven't been trying any.  I just haven't had the desire recently and I've been okay with that.  Surprisingly so.

But the other day, a friend of mine (who appreciates her privacy) posted a recipe that her and her husband have been enjoying.  "Enjoying" isn't the right word.  They're smitten.  Because the recipe was so simple and because I only needed to pick up one ingredient (the bread- which I found at a discount grocery store on my next trip), I decided to come out of my recipe slump and try it.

Do you know about panzanella?  I'm a tad embarrassed to say that I did not.  I do now.  Oh, sweet Lord, I do now.  According to my Food Lover's Companion, The (Barron's Cooking Guide) 3rd Edition...

"panzanella [pahn-zah-NEHL-lah]  An Italian bread salad made with onions, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, vinegar and seasonings and chunks of bread.  Some versions also include cucumbers, anchovies and/or peppers.  More traditional recipes call for soaking the bread in water then squeezing the water out.  Others suggest browning the bread in olive oil before adding it to the salad."

Thanks to my friend, Beck, I am in love with this simple, incredibly fresh-tasting, summerific, and healthy recipe (that has nothing to do with anchovies or soaking bread in water then squeezing it out).  And I want you to do something for me.

Make it.

Jamey and I swooned over this salad.  Sadie gobbled it up (no surprise) and Sam (our vegetarian who doesn't like vegetables) announced part way through the meal, "I think I like tomatoes now."  I got up and danced.  I'm not joking.  I really did.  Miriam...well...she's three.  That's all I'm going to say about her.  I will say one more thing.  I made it three times that week.

Tuscan Panzanella Bread Salad (courtesy of my friend, Beck)
Serves 4 (as a main dish)
I skipped the onions (for my kids' sake), used slightly less olive oil than called for, and added another tomato- it was still fabulous.

1 pound stale Italian-style bread, crusts removed (only if they're not soft), cubed
4 large slicing tomatoes, chopped
1 1/4 cup onion, thinly sliced
1 cup cubed mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup olive oil (or slightly less)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 large bunch fresh basil, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large serving bowl, layer the bread cubes, the tomatoes, the onion, and mozzarella cubes.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic and basil.  Add about 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp. black pepper (adding more later, at the table, if you think it needs it) and mix well.  Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss gently.  Let stand for 30 minutes and enjoy.

Just be prepared...your eyes may roll back into your head in enjoyment.  Pin It


  1. If you really want to go all out (just for the grown-ups or to eat standing at the stove-it's that good) try keeping the tomato part cold, then toss at the last second with piping-hot from the stove bread cubes that were just toasted with olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan.

  2. So,I'm at odds with using balsamic,some people swear by it ,others well.... so which did you use in this one red wine vinegar or balsamic?

  3. Okay my favorite part of this is that Sam is a vegetarian who doesn't like vegeatbles. That's fantastic. He and Isis sound similar. I'm in the process of making blue monkey (blueberries and bananas) bread just so Isis will eat some fruit!

  4. I've never tried this, but it looks fabulous! Definitely on my to make list.

  5. I've heard of it, but never made it. Pinned it - can't wait to try it! (Along these lines, try the bruschetta in Simply in Season; we eat it on slices of grilled French bread. FAB.)

  6. I added roasted corn to this recipe and it was soooo good! Thanks for another fabulous dinner idea :)

  7. Sounds yummy my friend. Thank you for sharing! :)


  8. Made this tonight YUMMY!! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Oh you can BET I'm pinning this. It sound delicious!!

  10. That's fantastic. He and Isis sound similar. I'm in the process of making blue monkey (blueberries and bananas) bread just so Isis will eat some fruit!Tadalafil


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