Tuesday, July 26, 2011

PANZANELLA (Bread Salad)

There are so many ways to make panzanella.  Sometimes, in summer,  I make a very simple version just by cutting up stale bread into chunks, combining it with a sliced tomato, and mixing it up with a some lemon juice and olive oil.  If I want to get fancy I season it with a little oregano and Parmesan or crumbled feta cheese.  Very simple, and it hits the spot: a garden fresh tomato accompanied with stale bread which takes on a luscious flavor because it soaks up the lemon juice and olive oil.  A more traditional panzanella should include basil, but since I usually make this simple version as a      night-time snack, I don't venture outdoors into the night, to gather basil from my little herb garden.  Why disturb the night spirits lurking outside, the ones cleverly disguised as floating shadows?  The dark hours belong to them.  Of course if they ever knock on my windowpane and want to invite me for a night of spooky frivolity, I will probably say yes.  I'll even share my salad with them, but I'll venture outside by their invitation, only.  Respect.  For the spirits. 

Panzanella or bread salad is a summertime bread salad made popular by the Florentines.  It's true peasant fare, which means it's really good.  It includes chunks of stale bread, tomatoes, onions, lots of basil, cucumbers, and sometimes other fresh vegetables.  The salad is dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, or vinegar.  It's a great choice for dinner on a hot, hot, day. I made some recently, when the temperature was hovering around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  It was a great choice, and here's how I put it together:

Get a small loaf of bread (I used whole wheat), and cut it into cubes.  Sprinkle with olive oil, some oregano, salt and pepper and a little Parmesan cheese.  Mix the bread cubes with your hands, coating them really well with the seasonings.  Arrange them on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven until they get crisp but not too hard.  Set them aside and let them cool. 

In a large bowl toss the following:  2 large tomatoes, sliced, 1 English cucumber peeled and sliced, half a red onion sliced thinly, half a green pepper sliced, half a yellow pepper sliced, a few green olives cut in half (add some black ones too, if you have them around), 1/4 cup basil leaves coarsely chopped,  2 tablespoons Italian parsley coarsely chopped, and a sprinkling of capers.

Make a dressing by combining 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, some black pepper, a dash of salt, and a pinch of dried oregano.  Pour it over the salad.  Add the reserved bread and toss everything well.  Chill for about an hour, and then serve and enjoy!!!  


  1. Greek Girl from QueensJuly 27, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    This looks so, so delicious, Ana. As I'm going back on a diet, this salad is the perfect way to keep hunger at bay and to feel completely satisfied and have my tastebuds tickled, too. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing. And the photos, as usual, are beautiful and vivid. I think I might want to paint this as a still life at some point - it's that pretty to look at.

  2. Beautifully done, Ana! Our tomatoes are jus starting to ripen - I can't wait!

  3. Thank you so much June for your very gracious comment.

  4. Hi Ana, and from one Bichon lover to another,
    Your Panzanella looks so beautiful and would just be delicious. We have so many wonderful tomatoes just now this is a perfect recipe for us. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope to see you again real soon. Hope you are having a great week!
    Miz Helen

  5. This really does look good Ana. We loved it in our house. I love the idea of the olives too.

    I hope you are well, and that the temperatures have cooled down somewhat.