Panzanella (Bread Salad)

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Reprinted with permission from The 30-Day Vegan Challenge

Instead of discarding that hearty Italian loaf that’s going stale, make this delicious bread salad that is absolutely divine in the summer when tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil are at their peak. Vegan, of course.

Ingredients

  • 5 to 6 medium tomatoes, cut into large chunks 
  • 4 to 6 cups (360 to 540 g) day-old crusty bread (Italian loaf or French baguette), cut into cubes the same size as the tomatoes (a full loaf or baguette should be fine)
  • 1 medium hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • ½ small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 medium cloves garlic, minced 
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons high-quality balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Add the tomatoes, bread, cucumber, red onion, garlic, capers, and basil to a large bowl, and toss together. Drizzle in the vinegar and ¼ cup olive oil, and toss some more. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add additional olive oil, if desired. 

Set aside and marinate, covered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours. I would avoid marinating the salad in the refrigerator, since the tomatoes tend to become somewhat “mealy” in the fridge. 

Serve at room temperature. 

Yield: 8 generous servings as a side 

For Your Edification

Panzanella is an Italian salad (pan means “bread”) that was most likely invented out of necessity as a way to use stale bread, along with fresh vegetables from the garden. The earliest written reference to Panzanella is from the 1500s in a poem by the famous artist, Bronzino. Because the tomato hadn’t yet been introduced to Italy, the original recipe wouldn’t have included tomatoes. 

For Your Information

If you don’t have stale bread, take a fresh loaf of hearty bread, cut it into large cubes, spread them on a baking sheet, and bake in a 200°F-degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. You don’t want to completely toast the bread; you just want to dry it out. It’s essential that you dry out the bread first before soaking it in the oil and vinegar; otherwise, it will just become soggy.

For Your Modification

Add other ingredients that pair well with the traditional classic, such as olives, sundried tomatoes, capers, red wine, parsley, mint, roasted bell peppers.

Soy-free

Any questions?

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