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Panzanella

Panzanella

Once the season’s first panzanella hits the table, it really begins to feel like summer has arrived! We love making this dish with a local sourdough bread and a variety of heirloom tomatoes – you can make it with any kind of whole loaf bread, and any tomatoes you find in your garden or at the store. This traditional Tuscan recipe is just a jumping off point for many kinds of juicy bread salads. We’ve had great fun experimenting with other combinations like rye and beets; pita and eggplant; and yes, even poundcake and peaches, why not, it’s summertime!

Yield: 6 Servings 

 INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 oz hearty loaf, preferably stale

  • 6 TBS olive oil, divided

  • ¾ tsp salt

  • Black pepper, to taste

  • 2 lbs very ripe, fresh tomatoes

  • 2 TBS red wine vinegar

  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced

  • ½ shallot, sliced thinly

  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, torn or chopped

  • ½ cup torn fresh basil leaves

 DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. For the best texture, cut the crust off of the bread and rip into uneven cubes measuring about 1”. Toss bread cubes with 2 TBS olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place onto a baking sheet, and toast briefly in the oven until the bread is dried out, quite crispy and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

 Core the tomatoes, and cut them into either wedges or large chunks. If using small tomatoes (grape or cherry sized) just slice them in half. Transfer the cut tomatoes into a large mixing bowl and set aside. If any tomato juices remain on the board, pour or scrape the juice into a small bowl. Then add olive oil, vinegar, and garlic to the bowl with the juice from the tomatoes, and whisk vigorously until combined. Stir in shallots. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Pour the dressing into the bowl with the chopped tomatoes, toss to coat, and set aside. 

Just before you are ready to eat, add the croutons and fresh herbs to the tomato mixture, and stir to combine. This will allow the flavors to meld, and the bread will just-soften by the time it reaches your table- the croutons will soak in the vinaigrette without becoming soggy or losing its varied textures.

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