Panzanella – Italian Bread Salad

Refreshing and flavoursome Italian bread salad
08/14/2016 4:06:58 PM vindhyadesai

Whenever we think of Italian food only pizzas and pasta cross our minds. Fresh Italian food is so much more than that. They give importance to fresh ingredients, local produce, Italian plum tomatoes for instance are the most flavoursome tomatoes I have ever eaten. We might not be able to procure ingredients from various places all the time but fresh vegetables that we get locally and seasonally are always the best. This salad is very simple, very tasty yet looks quite exotic. Fresh vegetables with a refreshing vinaigrette poured over bread cubes makes it quite filling yet light. This Italian salad is Dish 2 part of the World Cuisine Series all this week on Food Of Interest!

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Panzanella - Italian Bread Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Refreshing and flavoursome Italian bread salad
Author:
Recipe type: Starter/Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 2 people
Ingredients
  • ½ loaf of any kind of bread (here I have used olive Ciabatta)
  • Olive oil to drizzle
Salad Vegetables:
  • ½ seedless/deseeded cucumber (English variety or North Karnataka variety)
  • ½ small red onion
  • 12-15 cherry tomatoes/vine tomatoes/grape tomatoes/regular small plum tomatoes
  • 1-2 spring onions
  • 10-12 chopped fresh basil leaves
For Vinaigrette/Dressing:
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin good quality olive oil
  • ½ Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tsp freshly ground black pepper
Other Ingredients:
  • Salt to taste
  • Parmesan cheese(veg variety) shavings to add on top
Method
  1. Slice up the bread. Pre-heat oven to 150 Deg C
  2. Cut bread into 20-25 pieces of 2" bread cubes
  3. Put bread slices on baking sheet and drizzle olive oil
  4. Toast them for 20-25 minutes, they will not get much colour but they crisp up and dry out a bit which will help them absorb the vinaigrette. This process is called 'staling' the bread
  5. While bread is toasting and crisping up, cut onion, cucumber into half moon slices. Chop the spring onions finely, halve the cherry tomatoes
  6. To make vinaigrette, add olive oil in a glass bottle or small bowl or jar
  7. Add balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar
  8. Add coarsely ground black pepper
  9. Close the bottle/jar and shake it till vinaigrette gets mixed up or whisk till everything is combined if doing it in a bowl
  10. In a salad mixing bowl, add chopped cucumber and onions
  11. Add finely chopped spring onions
  12. Tip in the halved cherry tomatoes
  13. Add chopped basil and toss
  14. Add the toasted bread cubes and give a light toss
  15. Add salt to taste
  16. Pour over the vinaigrette half at a time. Give time for it to be absorbed
  17. Mix well and serve immediately with parmesan shavings on top
Notes
Use a day old bread (within the expiry date of course) this will make the bread even more crispier

Try to use non-sweet variety of bread

Both types of vinegar can be found in supermarkets, small bottles do last for a long time and are quite handy to make salad dressings at any time

Use any kind of tomatoes you like as mentioned in the ingredients list

Add freshly chopped parsley also if you like (flat leaf variety has maximum taste)

If you do not get fresh basil use the dried variety, this will also taste good

Adjust salt and pepper as per your taste

Keep all ingredients ready, make and refrigerate the vinaigrette ahead of time which makes it even more flavourful, toss them all together just before serving

 Stepwise:

Slice up the bread. Pre-heat oven to 150 Deg C
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Cut bread into 20-25 pieces of 2" bread cubes
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Put bread slices on baking sheet and drizzle olive oil
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Toast them for 20-25 minutes, they will not get much colour but they crisp up and dry out a bit which will help them absorb the vinaigrette. This process is called 'staling' the bread
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While bread is toasting and crisping up, cut onion, cucumber into half moon slices. Chop the spring onions finely, halve the cherry tomatoes
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To make vinaigrette, add olive oil in a glass bottle or small bowl or jar
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Add balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar
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Add coarsely ground black pepper
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Close the bottle/jar and shake it till vinaigrette gets mixed up or whisk till everything is combined if doing it in a bowl
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In a salad mixing bowl, add chopped cucumber and onions
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Add finely chopped spring onions
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Tip in the halved cherry tomatoes
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Add chopped basil and toss
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Add the toasted bread cubes and give a light toss
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Add salt to taste
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Pour over the vinaigrette half at a time. Give time for it to be absorbed
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Mix well and serve immediately with parmesan shavings on top
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