Seeing that I have so many tomatoes in my garden, together with the fact that I love Panzanella Salad, I decided to make one. I especially love the toasted bread soaked in the aged balsamic. I could literally eat this for dinner all by itself! There’s something about the flavors of the balsamic vinegar, together with the native tomatoes, basil picked fresh from the garden, roasted red peppers, cukes and fresh red onions.
- 4 cups stale (1 to 3 day-old bread) Italian-style bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes*
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup good-quality aged Balsamic Vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 2 cups fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1 cup red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 1-2 whole roasted red peppers in the jar
- 1/4 cup diced yellow peppers
- 1/4 cup Kalamata or Nicoise olives, pitted
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- To dry out the bread, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes on a large baking sheet in a single layer; drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil just to lightly coat cubes. Dry in oven approximately 10 minutes.
- I make an envelope of Good Seasons salad dressing made with a really good aged balsamic vinegar, but you could make any version you like.
- Add tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, roasted red peppers, yellow peppers, olives, basil, coarse salt, and pepper. Toss the ingredients gently to coat; let stand for at least a half-hour.
- Panzanella can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for several hours. Remove from refrigerator an hour or so before serving and bring the salad to room temperature. Before serving, add bread cubes and sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. Add salad dressing and serve.