Olive~Me & Co’s Panzanella Salad

image source http://dishingouthealth.com

image source http://dishingouthealth.com

Recipe adapted from http://www.thekitchn.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 (12- to 16-ounce) loaf artisan bread (8 to 10 very full cups) (fresh or stale)
  • 2 to 3 large heirloom tomatoes (3 pounds, about 8 cups chopped into bite sized pieces)
  • 1/2 large cucumber (chopped into bite sized pieces)
  • 1 medium red or yellow bell pepper (chopped into bite sized pieces)
  • 1/2 medium red onion (sliced and soaked in cold water 10-15 minutes before assembling salad)
  • 1/2 cup any Olive~Me & Co’s EVOO (or try our Basil Olive Oil if you don’t have fresh basil)  plus more
    oil if choosing method # 2 for the bread. See below)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or Olive~Me & Co’s Rosato Wine Vinegar for a sweeter salad)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil
  • Fresh Parmigiano Reggiano (if choosing method #2 for the bread. See below)

Directions:

1. Slice the bread into 1-inch cubes: Slice or tear the bread into roughly 1-inch cubes (around 10 cups of bread)

2. Dry the bread:  (note: if you have very dry bread already, simply cube it to continue)

Method # 1: place cubes on baking tray and bake in a 300°F oven until hardened on the outside but still slightly soft in the middle (about 15 to 20 minutes) stirring once or twice during baking. Let cool completely.

Method # 2: 2-3 day old stale bread , cut into 1-inch cubes. Place in large skillet, over medium heat.  Drizzle on enough olive oil so that each piece has some on it. Fry cubes until golden (add oil as needed).  Finely grate Parmigiano Reggiano to cover bread; fry until crispy and browned. Let cool completely.

3. Make the vinaigrette:

Combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar (or rosato wine vinegar), salt, and a freshly ground black pepper in a mason jar. Shake vigorously. (Or simply combine ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well)

4. Combine the cooled bread and chopped vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over top and thoroughly combine.

5. Let the salad sit between  1/2 hour to 4 hours. Stir occasionally so the juices and vinaigrette are evenly distributed.

6. Just before serving, stir in the basil. This salad is best eaten the day it’s made.