Panzanella was initially invented as a way to use up left over bread, but since I have a boyfriend who is insanely obsessed with bread we end up buying fresh bread to make it.
This recipe is adapted from the Barefoot Contessa's recipe for Panzanella. It's a great light summer salad that is substantial enough to hold you over for a couple hours. Or it's great as a side for grilled fish, or chicken, whatever you like really!
If you want to keep it for a couple hours, keep the bread and the vegetables separate and don't put the vinaigrette on until you're half an hour away from eating.
Serves 2 as a main course
1 1/2 Tbsp. good olive oil
1 small loaf of French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 3 cups of bread cubes)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 large, ripe tomato, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cucumber, unpeeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/4 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/3 red onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
10 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 Tbps. capers, drained
For the vinaigrette:
1 small clove of garlic, finely minced
1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
fresh black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the bread and salt. Cook over medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 or so minutes until golden brown. Add more oil if you need.
In a large bowl, mix together the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil and capers.
Whisk together the garlic, Dijon, vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper.
If you are planning on serving in the near future (next half hour or so) then mix the bread cubes with the vegetable mix. Toss with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or allow the salad to sit for half an hour for the flavors to blend.