A Panzanella Salad is a Tuscan bread and tomato salad. While one might typically consider it more of a summer salad, I love it year-round. Serve this salad as a first course or as an entree’ with roasted or grilled chicken or beef. It’s sure to become a favorite in your home as it is mine.
To look at this photo you might wonder what could be so special about a bread and tomato salad, but mark my word this salad is sensational! Even if you’re not a fan of anchovies I don’t recommend removing them from this dish. You can’t distinguish the flavor of the anchovies in the salad, but if removed it lacks in flavor. Trust me on this one!
Homemade croutons are a must and quite simple. In fact, after making these you’ll wonder why you ever bothered purchasing store bought brands.
I hope you’ll try this Panzanella Salad – it’s a recipe I got from David Shalleck who I met years ago online. David wrote the book Mediterranean Summer. In his book he shares this recipe among others while sailing the Mediterranean cooking for others.
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 Tbsp. grated Parmegiano-Reggiano, plus more for garnish if desired
- 6 cups day-old Italian bread, crusts removed, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. anchovy paste (mashed from about 1 anchovy fillet or from a tube)
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 2 pounds ripe but not soft tomatoes (I used Roma tomatoes), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
- 2 cups arugula
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery heart
- 1/3 cup very thinly sliced red onion
- 1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees
- Blend 2 tablespoons of the olive oil with the cheese in a large mixing bowl. Coat the bread in this mixture, then spread it out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Keep the bowl for making the dressing in the next step. Bake croutons until lightly golden, 10 - 12 minutes, tossing from time to time to cook all sides. The bread should be lightly crispy on the outside but still soft on the inside. Set aside to cool. (View step by step photo instructions here).
- Make the dressing. Combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, anchovy paste, and oregano. Whisk in the remaining olive oil in a steady stream.
- Toss the tomatoes and croutons in the dressing so that the bread absorbs the residual tomato juice and the dressing. Add the arugula, celery, onion, and basil. Toss gently to coat these ingredients, but don't let them get too wilted. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and an extra splash of vinegar if necessary.
- Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some Parmesan if desired. Serve immediately.
Note: This salad can be made up to 3 hours before serving. Layer but do not mix the tomatoes, then the bread, arugula,celery, onion, and basil. Cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated. Take out 30 minutes before serving and then toss with the dressing. Adjust the seasoning as necessary.
Mediterranean Summer - David Shalleck