Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuscan Bread Salad (Panzanella)
I first tried making this traditional Italian bread salad a few years ago just because I was intrigued by what I'd read about it. The dressing is tossed with the bread cubes and soaks in, so you'll want to get a bit of one in every bite.
This is my take on a recipe from 365 Great 20-Minute Recipes by Beverly Cox. I've varied the lettuce and cheeses with good results.
12 ounces or so day-old Italian, French or other good, rustic bread*
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 large yellow or orange bell pepper
3 large, ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 lb. to 1 lb. diced mozzarella (or use white cheddar or Asiago or a mix) at room temperature
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup slivered basil leaves**
Salad greens such as torn romaine leaves
Cut bread into rough 3/4-inch cubes and place in large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk balsamic, salt, pepper and sugar. Slowly pour in olive oil, whisking to emulsify. Pour dressing over bread and toss to mix well.
Add tomatoes, bell pepper, cheese, garlic and basil. Mix gently but thoroughly. Spoon salad over lettuce leaves on platter or large, shallow bowl.
Serves 4 to 6.
Makes a great, light summer supper. Try it with a glass of white wine.
* I've also used leftover rosemary focaccia and cornbread and been very happy with the flavor
** I have successfully subbed a little pesto mixed in with the chopped tomatoes when I had too little basil (or when my plant has basil blight as it does this year, ugh).