Friday, August 2, 2013
Panzanella, the Italian Bread Salad made with stale bread, olive oil, vinegar, and ripe tomatoes has many and varied additions. Just one look at "Google Images" and you will see that almost anything goes. I believe that traditionally the bread is soaked in water and then squeezed out. That method does not appeal to me. I like versions made with toasted bread or crispy croutons.
Also, basil is traditional. A few years ago we grew too much basil and I made too many batches of pesto. I don't dislike basil, I just overindulged and I haven't loved it since. Thyme can also be used but I chose to use lots of fresh parsley.
I saw beautiful images of Panzanella made with red onion or scallions (I used sweet Vidalia onions), bell pepper or not (I did), Cucumber or not (I did), Mozzarella or not (I did), black olives (I used pimiento stuffed green). Other things I saw include artichoke hearts, zucchini, radishes, avocado, chicken, pepperoni, shrimp. I saw salads arranged like a cobb salad and even panzanella skewers. If I had thought of anchovies, I would have added some.
I had some leftover croissants. I sliced them, drizzled with olive oil, toasted, then kept separate from the tomato mixture. After the salad had marinated in the refrigerator for a few hours, I served it over the toasted croissant slices. It was fantastic!
A Panzanella Salad
3 large, ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
1 small cucumber, chopped
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
Sliced pimiento stuffed green olives
Mozzarella cheese, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup, or more, fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Red wine vinegar, to taste
Olive oil, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Stale bread for serving