Panzanella is code for “I have some stale bread I need to use up.” I bought two loaves at the farmer’s market on Saturday, which was one loaf too many, so I had almost a whole loaf of bread to use up – luckily for me! Nothing is more tangy and carbtastically addictive than chunks of bread saturated with olive oil and vinegar dressing, surrounded by all the fresh veggies you have handy. Once you discover panzanella, you’re going to be thanking your lucky stars for stale bread!
You can find tons of variations on panzanella on the web, and you can follow them exactly, or you can approach it like I do: get the general idea, and throw in whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand – but make sure you at least have some tomatoes, those are the signature vegetable of panzanella.
several tomatoes – Roma and beefsteak
red onion (not too much – a whole onion would make this pretty spicy)
3 mini sweet peppers
2 cloves garlic
I chopped all of that up. How fresh and gorgeous does this look? It smells like heaven, too.
Then I chopped up the bread,
and then a ball of fresh mozzarella.
Lots of chopping! Then all that’s left is adding the dressing, and letting it stand for a few hours to marinate. You could just use olive oil (2 parts), any kind of vinegar you like (1 part) and some salt and pepper and call it a day. I mixed my oil and vinegar with some chopped shallot, lemon juice, dijon mustard, oregano and honey, but that is definitely optional.
And for a fun final flourish, I drizzled some balsamic glaze over the top. It adds a little sweet something extra, especially when you make this “caprese” version of panzanella, with tomato, basil and mozzarella.
This salad just gets better and better the longer it sits. It’s the perfect recipe to make the day before you want to serve it. The bread chunks gradually soak up the dressing and become sweet, tangy bursts of delight in your mouth. We enjoyed this for a fresh summer dinner along with a baked fillet of salmon, and I can’t wait til I have more stale bread to use up so I can make it again!