Panzanella is an Italian bread and tomato salad that is popular in summertime. Like much Umbrian and Tuscan cuisine, it was at first more practical than gourmet: a good solution for using day-old bread and summer’s plentiful tomatoes. Excellent served with grilled chicken. Also a good picnic food, but take the bread, vegetables and vinaigrette in separate containers, combining just before serving.
4 – ½ ” thick slices sourdough bread
½ cups extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small clove garlic, chopped
1 ½ lb. ripe, meaty tomatoes, cut into ½ ” cubes (yielding 3½ cups)
1 small English cucumber, seeded and cut into ½ ” cubes (see note)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
Brush the bread with ¼ c. olive oil on both sides. Sprinkle with ¼ t. kosher salt and black pepper. Grill on both sides until brown. Cut into ½ ” cubes when cool.
Soak the onion in the vinegar for 10 minutes. Drain the onions and reserve the vinegar, placing the onions in large bowl.
Sprinkle garlic with ¼ t. kosher salt and mash into a paste. Whisk mashed garlic into reserved vinegar. Add ¼ c. olive oil, ¼ t. kosher salt, 1/8 t. pepper until well combined.
Toss bread cubes, tomatoes, cucumber,basil, mint, capers and vinaigrette in the bowl with the green onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To seed the cucumbers, slice in half lengthwise then drag a small spoon or melon baller across the seedy flesh. The cucumber slices will be crescent-shaped.
From Fine Cooking (September 2008 No. 80).