I absolutely love this salad, which is rather surprising because I can not stand soggy bread. I refuse to make sandwiches ahead of time for lunch or picnics. I will take all the fixings with me to work and make my sandwich there because I hate soggy bread that much. But because the bread is firm day old French or Italian it just soaks up the dressing and you don’t even notice you’re eating soggy bread. The key is definitely the bread. You have to use a nice loaf of firm bread, the older the better.
Today I used a loaf of Italian olive oil and rosemary that our bakery had, I thought the added rosemary flavor would give the salad a boost of flavor. Not that it needs it mind you. I only made enough for one serving for my dinner tonight, but you can make a huge bowl of it for your next get together.
The following is the original recipe, I couldn’t tell you where I picked it up, sorry. I wasn’t very good at keeping track of my recipe sources. Below you’ll find a few minor tweaks I made.
Panzanella – Bread Salad
6 slices french bread, day old
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fat-free red wine vinegar salad dressing
2 Tbls chopped fresh basil or 2 tsp dried basil leaves
1/4 tsp pepper
Tear bread into 1 inch pieces. Mix bread and remaining ingredients in non-metal bowl. Cover and refrigerate, stirring once, at least 1 hour to blend flavors and soften bread. Stir before serving. Makes about 6 servings.
As I mentioned above I used an artisan loaf of rosemary and olive oil Italian bread, about 3 small slices cubed. One small hot-house tomato chopped. Don’t get rid of that juice or seeds! Throw it in the salad. About 1/3 of an English cucumber, skin still on. A few thin slices of red onion, roughly chopped. Threw all of this in a glass bowl with some roughly chopped fresh basil.
I didn’t have any red wine vinegar salad dressing. But I did have some Italian and some red wine vinegar. So threw a bit of dressing in a small bowl, added a few splashes of red wine vinegar and a bit of sugar to cut down a bit on some of the tartness of the vinegar. Mixed it all together with about 1 tsp dried basil and fresh cracked black pepper. Poured the dressing over the bread salad and mixed.
I only left it in the refrigerator for about a half hour, I was too impatient and hungry and didn’t want to wait. It really could have used at least another half hour to allow the vegetables to soak up a bit more of the dressing. The bread was perfect! Not too soft and even still a bit chewy.
Yum, yum! I probably made more than I needed, but it was so good. I still have plenty of ingredients to make another salad tomorrow. Enjoy!