Sunday, 7 February 2016

Panzanella

Panzanella is an Italian salad, originally made of bread and tomatoes mixed in with some olive oil. I think the idea was to use up leftover stale bread to create a scrumptious summer salad, making good use of the stale bread and turning it into the star of the show! 

Now, Panzanella is not just a way to use up stale bread, but has become a great salad recipe in its own right. I had some ciabatta which wasn't quite stale, but I really wanted to give this recipe a try. I have to say, this is now probably my favourite salad recipe! :) The key is to use a good crusty bread - a normal soft loaf will become too soggy. 



Ingredients

1 large cucumber -  halved, seeded and sliced 
3 tomatoes cut into quarters
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, diced 
1 loaf of ciabatta, about 150 gms (or any crusty bread of your choice)
10 -12 basil leaves, some roughly chopped and a few to scatter over
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Parmesan (optional)

For the vinaigrette or dressing 

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar (I prefer the taste of balsamic vinegar).
Salt 

Method

If using a ciabatta or any store bought crusty bread, cut the bread into cubes, drizzle with some olive oil and bake in the oven for 10 -12 minutes at 180 C.

To prepare the vinaigrette, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and mix well. I use a small jar to make this - place everything in the jar, put the lid on and shake it well. 

Add the prepared vegetables - cucumber, tomatoes, onion and yellow pepper to a bowl. Add the bread and chopped basil leaves, season with salt and pepper and toss everything together.

Add in the vinaigrette and give it a final toss. Scatter over the remaining basil leaves and sprinkle over some Parmesan shavings (optional) before serving.

This salad is great on its own or as a side to any main.
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