I just had a board retreat at my home – and made a Panzanella Bread salad – yummy! This is from the Ina Garten recipe from the Food Network – who own the copyright – it was delicious. I changed the ingredients a bit and adapted it to cooking with kids. They will love making this with lots of tasting too!
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- Bread ( I used stale whole wheat) cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 Japanese or 6 Persian cucumbers, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
- 20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained
- My Version – with one avocado, peeled and cut into small pieces sprinkled with a little salt, added at the last moment before serving
For the vinaigrette:
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons Champagne or white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed. I keep a bag of croutons made like this in the fridge all the time – they are wonderful in regular salads and other dishes – and this cuts down the time to make the panzanella to 5 minutes!
For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend optimally – although today I made the salad last night since I was going to run short of time this morning, and after macerating in the fridge all night – it was delicious. In the picture below, I actually added some avocado ( a very Californian touch to this Tuscan salad) just before serving and the creaminess of it added another dimension.