Thursday, December 6, 2012

Recipe: Panzanella

Adapted from a July 2011 Cook's Illustrated recipe for Italian Bread Salad (Panzanella) and prepared for dinner on, October 13, 2012.  


1 loaf rustic Italian or French bread
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1½ pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cucumber
1 shallot
Fresh basil
Salt and pepper


  1. Heat the oven to 400° with a shelf in the middle position.
  2. Cut or tear the bread to make six cups of 1-inch cubes, this will use about half of a two-pound loaf of bread.
  3. Toss the bread with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt.
  4. Place the coated bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, stirring as needed to evenly brown the bread, approximately 15 minutes. 
  5. Remove the toasted bread from the oven and let it cool to room temperature.
  6. Remove the core and seeds from the tomatoes and cut them into 1-inch pieces.
  7. Gently toss the tomatoes with ½ teaspoon salt then transfer them to a colander set over a large bowl. Allow them to drain for 15 minutes, gently stirring them every 5 minutes or so.
  8. Peel the cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and cut it into thin slices.
  9. Peel the shallot and cut it into thin slices.
  10. Chop the basil making ¼ cup.
  11. Whisk the tomato juices with the remaining olive oil (6 tablespoons), vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
  12. Add the bread pieces and toss to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  13. Add the cucumber, shallots, and basil, toss to combine, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Start with garden-fresh tomatoes and fresh basil.

Cut bread into 1-inch pieces, coat with seasoned olive oil, and toast in a 400° oven.

Drain the tomatoes and make a vinaigrette incorporating the tomato juices. Toss the bread with this, let it sit a spell, then add the remaining ingredients.

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