Summer Bread Salad
Now that warmer weather is here, cool summer salads are making a comeback. One unique Italian salad is called panzanella because it is made with stale bread that sits and soaks up the juices flavors of the salad ingredients. Panzanella means "bread in a swamp" and is popular all over Italy but originated in Tuscany. It was considered a country dish, eaten for breakfast or for a snack. Usually tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers make up the dish as well as bread that was moistened in water or vinegar and combined with the vegetables and extra virgin olive oil. Or the bread was cut into cubes and fried in a little olive oil to give a different texture to the salad.
The quality of the bread is critical to the salad. Spongy bread will just disintegrate. Make the salad early in the day and hold it at room temperature so that all the flavors can mingle and the bread becomes permeated with the tomato juices.
Panzanella Salad - Tomato Bread Salad
1 cup whole cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup whole yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons minced red onion
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons virgin olive oil
3 cups good quality crusty bread cubes (1/2 inch dice)
16 small whole mozzarella balls, (bocconcini from an 8 ounce container), well drained
¼ cup minced fresh basil
In a bowl combine the tomatoes, salt, sugar, onion, vinegar and 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and mix well. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a saute’ pan and brown the bread cubes. Add them to the bowl with the tomatoes and toss well to combine. Add the mozzarella balls and basil and toss again. Cover and allow the ingredients to marinate at least two hours at room temperature before serving. Garnish with whole basil leaves.