These days I'm trying to add more vegetables to my diet and cut back on meat. Quite a feat for someone who is an avid meat and potatoes girl. This salad recipe is one of my favorites. It's great for a quick easy brunch dish. I made a huge batch tonight so I can eat on it all week - easy lunches! Pair it with a glass of pinot grigio and you've got all you need for a light, tasty dinner.
All you need for a classic panzanella is stale bread, fresh tomatoes, olive oil and vinegar. Those of you who know me well know I can't leave it at that. I have to dress it up a bit. Still an easy recipe, I just like to make it a bit more interesting. Keep in mind, the ingredients are just suggestions, based on what I like. Feel free to play with the recipe and substitute fresh peppers, squash, salad greens, whatever you like.
- 2 cups stale bread, cut into 2" cubes (ciabatta or focaccia are ideal but any crusty bread will do)
- 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (I used kumato tomatoes - they're a sweet brown variety)
- 1 cup seedless cucumber, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives, with 2 Tbs brine
- 1/2 cup sliced spanish olives, with 2 Tbs brine
- 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, sliced thin
- 1/4 cup light olive oil
- 1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar (you can sub red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar)
- 2 tsp italian herbs
- 2 Tbs fresh basil, finely chopped
- 2 Tbs parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup Freshly shredded parmesan cheese (optional, can also use fresh mozzarella or omit cheese)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place cubes of bread in a single layer on a sheet pan and toast for 5-10 minutes in oven, until just crisp and lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, combine all ingredients in a large bowl, tossing to mix well. Add bread cubes and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.
That's it! Serve and prepare for all the compliments! This salad will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days before the bread loses it's structure.
Chef's Tip: Toast the bread and leave cubes in an airtight container, adding only what you need for each serving. Just be sure to allow to sit for at least 5 minutes to allow the bread to absorb all of the delicious flavors. Enjoy!