Panzanella salad is an old Tuscan classic comprised of tomatoes and stale bread. It is traditionally known as a summer time poor man's dish, reconstituting yesterday's left overs, accompanied by gifts from the garden.
I didn't reinvent the wheel too much with this already perfect creation. I generally try not to add dairy to most of my recipes, because of the strain it puts on most of our digestive systems, but in the case of Italian food, its really challenging to omit good ole Parmigiano. Parmesan happens to be one of the few cheeses I will consume (along with feta and goat). Always buy a whole block of it-- preferably imported, or at least grass fed. Previously shredded cheese has sawdust in it to prevent caking. No, I'm not joking.
For this recipe I used a beautiful medley of heirloom tomatoes and red onion from the farmer's market. Since I only work with gluten free grains, I used simple gluten free sandwich bread that I made into croutons. I would generally recommend a loaf of any rustic bread- ciabatta, baguette, or even foccacia if the bread was imported or if gluten intolerance was not a factor. I also chose to dress the salad with apple cider vinegar for the added nutritional benefit, as opposed to the customary balsamic. Lastly, the salad is adorned with basil fresh from the garden, adding simple complexity to the dish.
Prep time: 30 minutes
- 2 large ripe tomatoes
- 1 small loaf (cut into 1 inch slices) or 5/6 slices of GF bread
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced red onion
- 1/2 cup shaved parmesan
- 3 tablespoons torn basil leaves
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
If the bread isn't already "stale," then turn the broiler on high and place the slices under it until golden brown on each side (approximately 3 minutes, each). While the bread is getting crispy, Place the two tablespoons of olive oil in a small sautee pan and roast the 2 cloves of garlic in it, over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow it to cool. Lightly season the pan with salt and pepper at this time. Remove the bread from the broiler and allow it to cool on wire rack. While everything is cooling, prepare the tomatoes, by cutting them into 1 inch pieces, and placing them into a medium sized mixing bowl. Thinly slice the red onions and add them to the tomatoes. Shave the parmesan, and also add that too the mixture. Top with torn basil.
When the bread and garlic oil are cool enough to handle, submerge each slice of bread into the garlic oil one one side only. Set the slices aside while the dressing is prepared. In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients and whisk vigorously. Coat the tomato mixture in the dressing and toss thoroughly. Cut the slices of garlic bread into 1 in chunks, similar to the tomatoes. Add the croutons to the tomato mixture and thoroughly incorporate all ingredients. Serve immediately