The Italians have done it again. They’re really out to get me. (Fat) They already had my butt with their Pizza and thighs with their Pasta, but now they’ve stolen my abs, biceps, and soul with Panzanella. OK, so Panzanella isn’t really unhealthy but still… they sure know how to give you cankles.
Of all the recipes that I have posted thus far, this is the one EVERYONE should try. We made it last week in a Tuscan cooking class at Sur La Table and it stole the show. If you are a vegetarian, carnivore, health nut, fatty fanatic, dieter, Tinseltown starlet, grunge rocker, strapping farm boy, surfer girl, melancholy meter maid, scotch aficionado, hardcore chef, armature cook, or don’t know what a spatula is, you will fall in lust with this salad. This Panzanella will honestly blow you away. And what better accompaniment to any meal or BBQ prepared in the upcoming spring and summer months? This salad, is light and refreshing. You will love it, and everyone else who tries it, will love you. This is the way to get on the good side of your man-eating aunt, psychotic ex, or malignant mother in law. Guaranteed.
Yes I know the list of ingredients looks overwhelming, but remember people, this is a salad. You don’t have to do much with anything other than cut. We made a few improvements to the original recipe by grilling the bread and fennel, using roasted garlic instead of raw, and peeling the bell peppers by blistering the skin over a flame. If your not into grilling or think it looks too time consuming, don’t grill. I just recommend it.
*Fresh and delicious tomatoes are essential in this dish.
WARNING- May cause overwhelming desire to speak in Italian mob accents. “You talking to me?”
- 4 cups torn pieces of sourdough or rustic bread, 1 to 2 inches wide
- 3 tbs olive oil
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tbs drained capers
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1 head of garlic, roasted
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely diced red onions
- 5 assorted ripe heirloom tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size and shape
- 1 red bell pepper, roasted, julienned
- 1 yellow bell pepper, roasted, julienned
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, quartered (optional)
- ½ cup pitted and halved Nicoise olives
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- ¼cup shaved Parmigaino-Reggiano cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Roast garlic– Cut the top off the head of garlic off, drizzle with oil wrap in foil and bake for 40 minutes until soft
- Roast fennel– Drizzle fennel with olive oil, wrap in foil and bake till soft. About 20 minutes
- In a bowl, toss the bread with the 3tbs of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. If possible, grill the bread for a few minutes until lightly toasted. Then spread bread on a baking sheet and bake for 3 minutes until slightly crisp. If you do not have a grill then bake the bread for 7 minutes. (The pieces should not be as crispy as croutons.)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, capers, zest and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, add the extra virgin olive oil in a stream until well incorporated
- Roast bell peppers– Place whole bell pepper directly over an open flame and turn ever few minutes until the skin is blistered and blackened. Then place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Wait a few minutes then uncover and peel off the skin which should come off easily. Then slice into thin pieces.
- Place the onion, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, fennel, and olives in a serving bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Adjust the salt and pepper.
- Garnish with shaved cheese and serve. If you prefer a moister salad, drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil.
- Enjoy, or as the Italians say GUSTARE~