Panzanella Salad

Tuscany is famous for their mouthwatering heirloom tomato and bread salads, also known as Panzanella. I took a long weekend trip to Stowe, VT this weekend, and traveling for the first time since the start of COVID had me reminiscing about past trips. One of my favorite trips EVER was to Tuscany where I ate big Panzanella salads almost as frequently as I ate gelato.

I decided to bring Italy home by making my own Panzanella as I remember it in Italy. Since I’ve been stocking up on tomatoes and corn on the cob before the summer season is out, it’s a perfect excuse to use these up! Chunks of ripe heirloom tomatoes, fresh sweet corn, thinly sliced red onion, Italian hard cheese, and big toasted bread chunks – a simple combo that’s literally summer on a plate. A perfect dinner salad, this recipe is a last-call for summer meals and will hit all your sweet, salty, and savory taste buds.

 

 

 

 

Makes: a large salad for 4 people

Prep time: 45 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Total time: 1 hour and 25 minutes

The Ingredients

6 heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut in large chunks

2 packages romaine hearts, in bite-sized pieces

6 ears fresh sweet corn, cut off the cob

Small red onion, halved and in paper-thin slices

4 pickling cucumbers, in 1/2 inch slices

½ lb. Parmigiano-Reggiano, cut into small chunks (or Grana Padano for a cheaper, but just as delicious option)

2 cubanelle or Anaheim peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into strips

2 large, soft bread boules

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

~¼ cup red wine vinegar

~¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling (a bit more if seems dry)

Salt and pepper

 

 

 

The Steps

You can leave peppers raw, but I recommend roasting them if you have time!

For roasted cubanelle peppers: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pepper strips on cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and roast for about 30 minutes, until pepper are soft and slightly shriveled. Remove from oven.

In a large bowl, layer romaine, tomatoes, raw corn, onion, cucumber, cooled (or raw) peppers, and cheese.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Add more later in ~50:50 ratio if you like more dressing! This dressing should be quite vinegary.

For bread bites: Preheat oven on broil setting and place oven rack on top shelf. Take boules, cut off the bottom crusts of both boules, and hollow out the inside of the loaves using your hands. Tear the hollowed-out softer center into 2 inch chunks. Place on cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil on top. Place cookie sheet on top wire rack of preheated oven. Let bread toast for about 3-4 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from oven and flip bread bites so un-toasted sides are face-up. Put back in oven for another 2-3 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from oven and set aside.

Drizzle dressing from small bowl into the large bowl. Toss salad. Add salt and pepper to taste. Plate salad, and top with bread chunks. Wow, wow, wow. It’s a beauty!

 

 

 

The Steps with Pictures

You can leave peppers raw, but I recommend roasting them if you have time!

For roasted cubanelle peppers: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pepper strips on cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and roast for about 30 minutes, until pepper are soft and slightly shriveled. Remove from oven.

In a large bowl, layer romaine, tomatoes, raw corn, onion, cucumber, cooled (or raw) peppers, and cheese.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Add more later in ~50:50 ratio if you like more dressing! This dressing should be quite vinegary.

For bread bites: Preheat oven on broil setting and place oven rack on top shelf. Take boules, cut off the bottom crusts of both boules, and hollow out the inside of the loaves using your hands. Tear the hollowed-out softer center into 2 inch chunks. Place on cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil on top. Place cookie sheet on top wire rack of preheated oven. Let bread toast for about 3-4 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from oven and flip bread bites so un-toasted sides are face-up. Put back in oven for another 2-3 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from oven and set aside.

Drizzle dressing from small bowl into the large bowl. Toss salad. Add salt and pepper to taste. Plate salad, and top with bread chunks. Wow, wow, wow. It’s a beauty!

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