That’s what I was thinking, at least, when I decided to make this Summer Panzanella.
Panzanella is a hearty salad that heralds from Tuscany, Italy, and typically is made up of a combination of stale bread plus tomatoes, other vegetables, and a light vinaigrette. The idea is that the stale bread soaks up the juices of the salad and results in a fabulous melding of summer flavors. The bread is the key part here; it wouldn’t be panzanella without.In my recipe I didn’t have any stale bread on hand, so I made my own toasted bread by tossing chunks of my favorite french bread in olive oil and baking it in the oven until lightly toasted on the outside. I still prefer my bread to have some soft texture on the inside, so I didn’t bake it long enough to turn it into a crouton.
I used beautiful heirloom tomatoes that I found at the store this week, and I roasted my own peppers from scratch (but jarred ones will certainly do in a pinch). I also decided to add some fresh mozzarella, because, well, I had it on my mind after this awesome appetizer.I tossed everything together with some fresh herbs, a few greens, and some home-made balsamic vinaigrette.
It was truly summer on a plate.I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did (this was another one that I took to the office and is now co-worker approved). I also apologize for the graininess factor in a few of these photos… I was taking these pictures in relatively low light so I flipped the ISO too high and ended up with grainy photos. If anyone was confused by what the heck ISO does, now you know… it lets in more light at higher numbers, but affects the general image quality. I usually shoot at low ISO, but for “action shots” in low light I needed to flip the ISO to a higher setting to get the shot I needed.
Anyway, enough about the technical stuff. Let’s go stuff our faces with Summer Panzanella!
- 6 cups of french bread torn into pieces
- Olive oil
- ¾ lb heirloom tomatoes diced
- 3 peppers for roasting I used 1 red, 1 orange, and 1 yellow
- 8 oz bocconcini mozzarella quartered
- ½ cup roughly chopped parsley
- ½ cup roughly chopped basil
- 2 cups baby greens I used pea shoots
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon honey
- Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Oil 3 bell peppers liberally and bake on the lowest rack for about 30 minutes, turning 3 times during baking. Make sure to turn on your oven fan as this will generate a decent amount of smoke.
- Meanwhile drizzle the french bread pieces with olive oil, to taste, and a little salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly with oil.
- Bake in the oven on the middle rack for about 4-5 minutes (do this while the peppers are roasting) until the bread is slightly browned and dried on the outside, but not completely crisp. Remove bread and set aside.
- When the peppers are done, remove immediately to a plastic bag and let set for about 30-45 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Feel free to toss them in the fridge to speed up the process.
- Then, slice the peppers open and remove the stems, seeds, and skin.
- Roughly chop the peppers into large pieces and add to a large mixing bowl.
- To the peppers, add the diced tomatoes, mozzarella, herbs, and greens. Toss to combine and set aside to mingle the flavors briefly.
- Next, make the dressing by combining the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, and honey in a mason jar. Shake until emulsified. Spoon a tablespoon or two over the vegetable mixture and toss.
- Next add the bread and evenly drizzle the rest of the dressing over the bread.
- Toss to combine and season further as needed with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately.
- If making ahead, mix everything together except the greens, bread, and dressing. Mix in the salad greens, bread, and balsamic vinaigrette just prior to serving.