Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Italian Bread Salad (Panzanella)

from Cook's Illustrated July & August 2011

6 cups rustic Italian or French bread, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt
pepper
1 1/2 pounds ripe in-season tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
1 shallot sliced thing (you could use about 1/4 of a sweet onion)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the bread pieces with 2 tablespoons of oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt; arrange bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Toast bread until pieces are just starting to turn light golden, turning after about 7-10 minutes.  Continue baking for another 7-10 minutes.  Set aside to let cool to room temperature.
2.  Gently toss tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl.  Transfer tomatoes to a colander set over the bowl and set it aside for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (This allows you to use some of the natural juices from the tomatoes in the dressing).
3.  Whisk remaining 6 T of olive oil, the vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper into the reserved tomato juices. Add bread pieces, toss to coat, and let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4.  Add tomatoes, cucumbers, shallot, and basil to bowl with bread pieces and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.  Serves 4.

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