This panzanella, aka Tuscan bread salad, is simply croutons made from day-old bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, red and yellow bell peppers, onions, and a tangy vinaigrette. An Italian classic as interpreted by the Barefoot Contessa herself.
As the Barefoot Contessa explains, this salad was invented by Italians to use up leftover bread. It’s just sorta a lovely act of fate that the experience of sorta chewy bread being saturated with vinaigrette and jumbled with other vegetables is one that’s intensely satisfying. Although unlike the classic, we don’t limit ourselves to summer when it comes to panzanella. Because our craving for it knows no season. Which means we’ve dreamt up all manner of equivalents for fall, winter, and spring. Enter your imagination. For an autumn rendition, we tend to fancy something along the lines of this mushroom, herb, and bread concoction. For winter, there’s roasted winter squash and red onions and whatever other vegetables you have languishing in your veggie bin. As for spring, we’re thinking asparagus and tender baby greens. But go on, surprise us with your interpretation. And let us know in a comment below. Originally published March 27, 2001.–Renee Schettler Rossi
- Quick Glance
- 35 M
- 35 M
- Serves 12
- For the vinaigrette
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
- 1/2 cup really good extra-virgin olive oil (120 ml)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For the panzanella
- 3 tablespoons really good extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small French bread or boule, preferably a day old, cut into 1-inch (25-mm) cubes (6 cups)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch (25-mm) cubes
- 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch (25-mm) cubes
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch (25-mm) cubes
- 1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
- 20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1 handful parsley leaves (optional)
- Make the vinaigrette
- 1. Whisk together the garlic, mustard, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper.
- Make the panzanella
- 2. Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt and cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed. Remove from the heat.
- 3. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, capers, and, if desired, parsley. Add the bread cubes and the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Season the bread salad liberally with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or let the salad sit for half an hour to allow the flavors to blend before serving.