One month into my first year in law school and as I had anticipated time is not on my side. So when I had a window of opportunity this weekend to do something beside studying or sleeping, I gave my knives a little food lovin’ and made some panzanella. Panzanella is one of those incredibly easy “salads” that’s perfect for using up old stale bread. It’s a popular Italian dish that mixes fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, onions or any colorful ingredient that tastes like summer with a simple vinaigrette of olive oil and vinegar. Because the ingredients are to be enjoyed unadulterated, fresh and seasonal vegetables are important here. So seize those plump tomatoes on the vine and celebrate the last of summer with a small plate of happiness.
Panzanella often calls for basil but when I saw this recipe from the Kitchn using mint, I knew I wanted to try it! The wonderful thing about panzanella is that it lends itself very well to interpretation so use whatever ingredients you prefer.
- 1 lb of rustic bread
- 1 lb of tomatoes (on the vine, heirloom…)
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 spoonfuls of capers drained
- 1 English cucumber
- 2 anchovies
- handful of mint
- handful of flat leaf parsley
- 1 small clove of garlic
- kosher or sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- good extra virgin olive oil
- sherry vinegar
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Tear the bread up into bit size pieces. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Toss to lightly coat and place in the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes until slightly golden.
Place the sliced onions in a bowl and sprinkle a heavy pinch of salt over them and toss. I do this to take that bite out of raw onions, which I find sometimes overwhelming. Let them sit for at least 15 minutes and then rinse in water.
Slice the cucumber down the middle and then into sliced half-moons.
Cut the tomatoes in half or in wedges, depending on how large your tomatoes are.
In a mortar and pestle, pound the anchovies, garlic and a pinch of salt together into a paste. Then add a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil (about 1/3 cup) and a couple splashes of vinegar, and mix well.
Place all the vegetables in a large bowl. Add the capers. Thinly slice the mint and flat leaf parsley and add to the bowl.
When the bread is done, add them to the bowl of vegetables and herbs. Pour the dressing over the bread and toss all together. Let the mixture sit for about at least an hour so the flavors meld together and the bread soaks up all that loveliness.
(Adapted from the Kitchn)