Late Summer Panzanella
I guess it’s “late summer”? That’s what everyone keeps saying but just last week I saw a plastic spoon on the sidewalk that had, like, bent in the heat which is usually a sign it’s still very much so “regular summer.” At least for us down here in South Louisiana. But I’ll play along.
Late summer panzanella. Or, a way for you to eat your feelings in crunchy juicy fresh bread salad. Panzanella is a classic Italian salad that combines crusty bread with tomatoes and vinegar and herbs and then you eat it. It might sound funny to call it a salad considering it’s literally just a sophisticated way of eating an entire loaf of bread in one sitting, but I ask you—is potato salad a salad, really? Pasta salad? What’s up with that? Can we just call everything that involves a bunch of ingredients getting thrown together a salad? Why isn’t meatballs and spaghetti a “ salad “ ??? And what unseen culinary gods are behind what gets to be called a salad? Don’t think about this too long or you’ll just be wasting your time.
So this recipe is really easy, and if you mess it up it’s your fault and you need to accept that. But you won’t mess it up, I promise. We’re basically just toasting some bread, soaking some veggies in a marinade, and tossing it all together. Bada bing bada bread salad.
Late Summer Panzanella
takes 1 hour & serves 6 as a starter or side
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons + 1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
2 small shallots, sliced very thin (yields about 1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon white sugar
salt & pepper to taste
3 pounds tomatoes of varying varietals, sizes, and shades, roughly chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 loaf ciabatta, torn into bite-sized pieces (about 1 pound, or 6 cups lightly packed)
2 cups lightly packed baby arugula
1/2 cup torn basil
1/2 cup shaved parmesan
1/4 cup capers or caper berries
optional add ins: pickled veggies, anchovies, olives, peppers
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl large enough to hold all ingredients, whisk together the red wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons olive oil, dijon mustard, garlic, shallot, white sugar and a hearty pinch of salt and pepper. Add your tomatoes and cucumbers and toss. Let marinate, stirring occasionally, while you get the bread toasted—the juices from your veggies will come out and play!
In a separate bowl, toss the ciabatta in the 1/2 cup olive oil with a pinch of salt, making sure it’s evenly coated, then transfer to a baking sheet—you’ll want one with a lip to make sure the olive oil doesn’t run off in the oven. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the bread has gotten golden brown and kinda hard (some black burnt spots are fine). You really want the bread to be fully toasted before proceeding, otherwise this dish can quickly turn soggy. Remove bread from oven and let cool to room temperature.
Add the bread, arugula, basil, parmesan, capers, and any optional add-ins to the marinating vegetables. Toss to coat and let rest for half an hour to let flavors develop (can sit up to two hours). Toss again before transferring to serving dish. Garnish as desired and enjoy!
Quality—as with every simple recipe we have on here, the quality of ingredients used plays a huge roll in whether or not the final product is “good” or “dang daddy pass me another this is IT!!” good. If possible, try and use the-best-you-can-find olive oil, vinegar, and bread. That being said, if you’re working with a budget you can still make a kick ass panzanella with just the basics.
Tearing vs cubing the ciabatta—if you’re like super concerned with your ability to create nice little bite-sized tears, cubing is fine. I prefer tearing because it gives a more rustic feel and diverse texture, which allows for the dressing to get caught in nooks and crannies of the bread.
Thanks for stopping by the blog! Let us know if you try this dish by tagging us on Instagram or commenting below :)