Panzanella (Tuscan Bread Salad) Recipe
This salad is a great way to use up leftover or slightly stale bread. The original is typically made with red wine vinegar and the saltless bread found throughout Tuscany. Our version has a light lemon vinaigrette and cucumbers for an added dimension and some crunch.
What to buy: Pull out your best extra-virgin olive oil for this recipe, as the quality becomes apparent after the first bite.
Game plan: This dish gets better the longer the flavors are allowed to infuse, so you can make it up to a day in advance.
For the lemon-garlic vinaigrette:
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 to 2 medium lemons)
- 6 anchovies, finely chopped
- 3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the salad:
- 8 ounces day-old Italian bread (about 1/2 of a loaf), torn into large pieces
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, large dice
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced Tropea (red torpedo) onions, or a sweet onion such as Maui or Vidalia
- 1 pound English cucumbers (about 2 medium cucumbers), halved lengthwise and cut into large dice
- 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves, torn into large pieces
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a medium nonreactive bowl, stir to combine, and let sit for 15 minutes. Then, while whisking continuously, add the oil in a slow, steady stream until it’s fully incorporated.
For the salad:
- Place the bread in a large bowl and add half of the vinaigrette. Toss to coat well, then set aside at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the tomatoes, onions, and cucumber in a separate large bowl and add the remaining vinaigrette. Toss to coat well, then set aside at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
- Add the vegetables and the basil to the bread and mix until evenly combined. Taste and season salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld, then serve at room temperature.
Beverage pairing: Fernleaf Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand. The brisk lime, lemon, and grassy herbaceousness of this Sauvignon Blanc are a good match with the sharp notes of lemon, basil, onion, and tomato in the salad, while the wine’s lively acidity and energy will favorably contrast with the soft bread.