Panzanella Salad is an Italian Bread Salad with Vegetables: toasty golden bread, bright grilled veggies and a blend of Tuscan seasonings.
With a little judicious Googling, you’ll see that everyone seems to have a Panzanella salad recipe. August personages such as the Pioneer Woman and Elton Brown have even taken a swing at this delicious taste of Tuscan summertime. Well, now I’m throwing my hat into the ring. But with a twist!
For those of you unfamiliar with this salad, Panzanella is typically made of stale bread soaked in water, then squeezed out, mixed with tomatoes (and maybe some onions and/or basil), then dressed in olive oil and vinegar.
Seems simple enough, right? Simple yet delicious. How delicious, you ask? Central Italy found this salad delectable enough that a poet wrote about it as early as the 16th century. I mean, we know how much Italians appreciate good food, but to get a poet writing about veggies? Now that’s a salad!
So what changes will put my own stamp on this tried and true tradition? Well, the twist is twofold. First, I’m going to substitute bread chips for the stale bread. I mean, who the heck has stale bread lying around anymore? I can see how figuring out what to do with day old bread could have been really important back in the day. But now? Not so much. I feel the bread chips add a slightly different flavor (especially with the other part of my twist). Best of all, the bread chips allow you to make the salad on a lark rather than trying to remember days in advance to let some bread go stale.
My other big shift is changing the veggies. While these substitutions will absolutely send Florentine traditionalists running for the hills, I think they’re a delightful change up. Now, that said, I definitely want to keep the salad as a taste of summer, just summer in a different geographical location than central Italy.
I’m keeping the tomatoes, but switching to whole cherry tomatoes. Instead of onions, though, I’m going to try the milder flavors of corn and cabbage. Still very much summertime vegetables and still full of cool, crisp flavors you’ll enjoy on a hot day. But a more laid back flavor profile even with the basil and vinegar thrown in.
As always, I recommend a farmers’ market for the very freshest vegetables when you make my recipes. Barring that, you can also visit the organic grocers who strive to be nearly as fresh as right off the farm. Other than that, just follow the directions and enjoy my take on this beloved Italian favorite.