With the glut of late summer produce still available at the farmer’s market (and as a way to get rid of the day old bread), think of panzanella salad as a deconstructed vegetarian sandwich. While this traditional Tuscan bread salad is made with stale bread that has been soaked in water then tossed with vegetables and sometimes cheese, the thought of soggy bread made my stomach turn so I decided to create something that could hold up to the vinaigrette once dressed. Traditional versions often include red or yellow peppers, but I just used tomatoes and cucumbers which created a lovely starter to the whole roasted fish I served as the main course.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Four 1-inch slices of Italian country bread , cut into cubes
2-3 tbsp. , extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2/pints Heirloom cherry tomatoes or 3 medium sized Heirloom tomatoes/, chopped
1 kirby cucumber, cubed
1 shallot, thinly sliced and soaked in cold water for 20 minutes
5 fresh basil leaves, torn or chiffonaded
2 tbsp.chopped chives
4 tbsp. champagne vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt and pepper , to taste
1. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add whole cloves of garlic to season the oil.
2. Add bread cubes to pan and toast until golden brown, about 6-7 minutes depending on size of bread cubes. Add more oil if needed and toss frequently to avoid burning. Set aside to cool.
3. Toss chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, shallot (discarding the soaking liquid), basil and chives in a bowl. Add cooled bread cubes then toss with vinaigrette, being careful not to overdress the salad. Season to taste.
4. Serve immediately or let sit for no longer than 20 minutes to let flavors marry. Can also be plated with a chunk of fresh mozzarella or burrata.