Food & Drink Magazine

Toscana Toasted Panzanella Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes

By Weavethousandflavors

<   Panzanella-2

< Hands down Panzanella is one of my favorite summer salads. On the surface it’s a simple salad with just a handful of humble ingredients thrown together. 

Bread, tomatoes, red onions, basil and a simple dressing with red wine vinegar and olive oil. Pretty lame, right? 

You couldn’t be farther from the truth. Like almost all incredible seasonal and rustic antipasti, this one also depends on the quality of the ingredients. Which is why I have tweaked the traditional recipe to my liking and I humbly proclaim it’s better because of it. 

This roots of this dish lie in the copious amounts if extra bread at the end of a Tuscan baker’s day. The stale bread is soaked in water, squeezed out of extra liquid and tossed with lovely tomatoes and all the delightful ingredients listed above. 

Personally I don’t care for the notion of water logged bread so I toast the bread cubes with olive oil a light golden brown. 

I have also foregone gorgeous blood red, beautiful and perfectly round tomatoes for its ugly duckling cousins – the heirloom tomatoes. Because with the lovely hybrid tomatoes, what you gain in looks, you lose in flavor (and heart and soul). Hmmm….any celebrity come to mind, much? 

Hybrid tomatoes are far from pretty with their odd colors, bumps and over all ugly shapes reminiscent of a camel with one hump too many. But in the height of summer with the farmers markets in full swing, they are just ooh la la in terms of sweetness and flavor. 

Because I have forgone, soaking the bread, I am marinating the salad for 30 minutes to 1 hour in the refrigerator allowing the bread to sop up all of that delicious dressing. 

The salad at the end is bursting with the scent of basil and so refreshing it will have you doing a little dance with each bite…reminding all of us that the day is bright and the sun is shining and some days that is all you need for a little happiness. 

 

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 Gather the ingredients,

1/2 lb loaf rustic Italian bread, 1-1/4 lbs (approx 2 large) ripe Heirloom tomatoes, 1 punnet cherry tomatoes (preferably hydroponic), ¼ cup good quality olive oil for toasting bread, 1 small Spanish red onion (to yield ½ cup thinly sliced) &  10-12 leaves fresh Basil leaves

Dressing: 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 3 tbs good quality olive oil, 1-1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black ground pepper, 2 tsp brown sugar & More olive oil for drizzling before serving

 

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F

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Bread – Cut into ¾-1” pieces with a bread knife. Place on a 11” x 17” baking tray lines with Aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil on the bread and toss as best you can with clean hands. Grill the bread in a single layer for about 5 minutes. Toss with tongs and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the bread is a golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.

Spanish red onion – Peel, discard ends. Halve and very finely slice into semi-circles.

Heirloom tomatoes  - Wash and halve. Remove woody top. Halve, slice into ¼” thick semi circles and cut each semi circle into half or 4 wedges if the tomato is large.

Cherry tomatoes - Wash and halve.

Dressing: Place all the ingredients in a jar and shake to combine or whisk in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings. Shake again before ready to use.

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In a very large salad bowl which will give you ample room to toss, add all the bread, tomatoes, & onions. Pour the dressing and tear the basil leaves by hand into pieces. Toss with clean hands to combine and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving but no more than 1 hour. Drizzle some more olive oil before serving.   

 

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Recipe for

Toscana Toasted Panzanella Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Marination time: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Shopping list:

1/2 lb loaf rustic Italian bread

1-1/4 lbs (approx 2 large) ripe Heirloom tomatoes

1 punnet cherry tomatoes (preferably hydroponic)

¼ cup good quality olive oil for toasting bread

1 small Spanish red onion (to yield ½ cup thinly sliced)

10-12 leaves fresh Basil leaves

 Dressing:

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

3 tbs good quality olive oil

1-1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black ground pepper

2 tsp brown sugar

more olive oil for drizzling before serving

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F

Bread – Cut into ¾-1” pieces with a bread knife. Place on a 11” x 17” baking tray lines with Aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil on the bread and toss as best you can with clean hands. Grill the bread in a single layer for about 5 minutes. Toss with tongs and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the bread is a golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.

Spanish red onion – Peel, discard ends. Halve and very finely slice into semi-circles.

Heirloom tomatoes  - Wash and halve. Remove woody top. Halve, slice into ¼” thick semi circles and cut each semi circle into half or 4 wedges if the tomato is large.

Cherry tomatoes -  Wash and halve.

Dressing: Place all the ingredients in a jar and shake to combine or whisk in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings. Shake again before ready to use.

In a very large salad bowl which will give you ample room to toss, add all the bread, tomatoes, & onions.

Pour the dressing and tear the basil leaves by hand into pieces. Toss with clean hands to combine and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving but no more than 1 hour.

Drizzle some more olive oil before serving.   

 Enjoy!

 


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