Recipe: Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)



This is a good way to use up over-ripe late season tomatoes, stale sourdough bread and whatever else you might have on hand. Serves 6.

Ingredients (basic):
1 lb or so stale sourdough bread, Italian or other sturdy white loaf
1 lb or so tomatoes, coarsely chopped (be sure to reserve the juice)
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 t salt
1/4 c olive oil
4 t red wine vinegar
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped (traditional, but optional to me)
Some chopped or crumbled tart cheese like feta (optional)
A handful of marinated vegetables from the DeLallio counter at the store (optional)
Whatever else you may have lying around (optional)

Method: cut the bread into 1 inch squares and soak in water till crustiness is gone (maybe 20 minutes if the bread is really hard and stale). Squeeze out as much water as you can and place in a bowl with the chopped tomatoes. Let it set a bit to absorb some juice, or just toss with the other ingredients. Allow to macerate a bit before serving. Tastes at least as good the next day.

PRO TIP: if your initial taste is a bit bland, try more salt and vinegar and/or lemon juice. There’s a lot of liquid so it’s important to get its flavor balance right.

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2 Responses to Recipe: Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)

  1. Judith says:

    I’ve always avoided this because set, mashed up, flattened bread sounds awful. Can you tell me why I may be wrong?

  2. If it is good, sturdy bread and thoroughly dried out, it will behave like a sponge when you reconstitute it. The bread becomes soft with the water then when you squeeze the water out it retains its shape and porosity… just like a sponge. And is ready to be refilled with the liquid with the dressing when you mix to serve.

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