Panzanella – Bread Salad with Basil Vinaigrette


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The classic Italian bread salad is a great way to use up stale bread and boost the taste experience up to ‘very pleasing’ (ding, ding, ding). In its most common form it usually also consists of tomatoes and raw onions in a basic vinaigrette. This version also adds bell pepper for some fibrous crunch and a basil dressing with Chimichurri vibe.

It might just be my selective perception but as soon as I discovered Panzanella for me – as a great way to use up stale bread – suddenly Panzanella recipes were popping up everywhere. It seems that this bread salad practically became pretty much a free style salad. Or say it’s on the verge of becoming that. As long as there’s bread involved you can call it Panzanella (mostly without any nervous ticks or a backlash). 

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Just like Star Wars (or anything with a huge fan base). When someone created something great that gathered a fairly respectable fan base and this fan base makes something out of the creation that develops into something much more and bigger than it initially was. Panzanella is getting there with its increasing fan base and such…

Ok, maybe that’s totally blown out of proportion and out of any relation. Just forget what I wrote (so I can use that up again in another context). Or maybe I come back to it when people starting to wear t-shirts and caps that say ‘Panzanella’.

About this recipe

This version keeps the ingredients rather close to the classic form with fresh tomatoes. Color adaptive red bell pepper joins to add some fibrous crunch. The basil vinaigrette is made in a mortar. A vibe from this Chimichurri recipe taste-wise was intended. Stale baguette gets broken into bite sized pieces and then toasted on a grill pan until crispy and char-marked, with some drizzled olive oil. This is one significant step to bring that stale bread back to live and therefor it’s crucial. The other closing step is to toss it with all the other ingredients including the dressing for an impressive joint taste experience.

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Panzanella – Bread Salad with Basil Vinaigrette {vegan}

Yield: 4-6 servings   Prep time: 30-45 min.

Ingredients

  • Day(s) old baguette
  • Drizzles (about 1-2 ts) of olive oil
  • 7-10 (2.2 pounds / 1 kg) tomatoes, cut into chunky bite-sized pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch dices (2,5cm)
  • 1 medium-sized onion, diced
  • ¼ ts sea salt or to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

Ingredients for dressing:

  • Handful (1/3 cup) basil leaves
  • ¼ ts dried oregano
  • 4 TS olive oil
  • 2-3 TS red wine vinegar, or balsamic
  • ¼ ts coarse sea salt, or to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

ts = teaspoon (5ml), TS = tablespoon (15ml)

Equipment

  • The Basic (cutting board, chef’s knife)
  • Grill pan
  • Big mixing bowl
  • Mortar and pestle

Method

  1. Heat up a grill pan on medium high. Break your bread into bite-sized pieces and add them to the pan as soon as it’s hot. Let them crisp up and get char-marked while occasionally flip the bread pieces (aka croutons) – for about 3-5 minutes. Set aside to let the croutons cool off by transferring them onto something cooler than the pan (like a plate).
  2. Meanwhile add the vegetables (tomatoes, bell pepper and onion) into a big mixing bowl. Add sea salt, toss and let tomato juices come out. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile in a mortar add fresh basil leaves and oregano along with coarse salt and pestle until broken down. Stir in olive oil and vinegar and season with black pepper to taste.
  4. Now assemble by tossing the croutons with the vegetables and mix with the dressing. You can serve immediately.

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One Comment on “Panzanella – Bread Salad with Basil Vinaigrette”

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