Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Tonight we made a delicious Tuscan Bread Salad. There are many variations of this salad, but mine sticks to the Italian cooking philosophy of "less is more" and using fresh, in-season quality ingredients. The bread for this salad is important... you need something with some chew (like a nice ciabatta) so the bread doesn't go soggy. We used a day-old crusty French stick, cubed it and put in in the oven to simulate the "3-day-old-bread" dryness.
My version of Panzanella contains seeded vine ripened tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil along with red wine vinegar, kalamata olives, capers and roasted red peppers. You can add sardines or anchovies to it if you're in a Sicilian mood. Click on the picture above to get a better idea of what it looks like.
Tuscan Bread Salad
• 1 Tablespoon drained capers
• 3 or 4 slices of ciabatta or other country-style white bread, 2 to3 days old
• 4 ripe tomatoes, cored and scored on the bottom
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 or 3 thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
• 1/2 cup drained roasted red bell pepper strips
• 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
• Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish
Cut the bread into 2-inch slices and grill or broil, drizzling about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on both sides of the bread. Once grilled, cut or tear bread into 1 inch cubes and set aside.
Cut the tomatoes in quarters and scoop out the seeds. Cut the tomatoes into 1-inch cubes and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the bread, tomatoes, capers and basil; toss to combine. Plate bread mixture, and arrange the roasted peppers and olives over the bread mixture. Let stand at room temperature for flavors to blend, at least 1 hour.
Garnish with the basil sprigs.