Summer is winding down. I saw the school bus making its rounds around our neighborhood this week and the days are getting shorter. I am personally excited for fall, but the summers in Ohio are so short that I know it can be a hard transition for some. For those of you still clinging to the dwindling dog days, this dish is summer in a salad. Panzanella is traditionally an Italian dish that was a way people would use up their stale bread. For me, it was a way to use up some of the tomatoes, peppers, and basil from our garden. I’ve been making this salad for a few years and I absolutely love it. You can’t beat the combination of fresh produce, a made from scratch vinagrette, and crispy homemade croutons.
I used leftover artisan bread I had made to make the croutons and it worked great. If you are pressed for time, I am sure you could use the store-bought version, but I don’t think it will be quite as tasty. There’s only a few weeks of summer left and I am confident this panzanella will help you get the closure you need until next year.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small loaf of bread (stale bread is best), cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
For the vinagrette
- 2 cloves finely minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons rice, white, or wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To make the croutons, heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the salt and then the bread chunks. Cook over medium heat, tossing frequently, for about 15 minutes minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.
For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, mix the chopped tomatoes, peppers red onion, and basil. Add the vinagrette and mix well (allowing the salad to sit for a few minutes will allow the flavors to meld better). Before serving, toss in the croutons and serve immediately.
Source: Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!