Panzanella Salad

Panzanella is one of my favorite summer salads, and I’ve been craving it constantly of late. It’s beautiful and packed with flavor.  It’s another of those practical Italian peasant dishes which utilize leftover stale bread. A true Florentine would disapprove of my addition of cucumber and leftover roast beef, as those are not traditional additions to panzanella.

I fired up my oven the other day to make a chicken pot pie with some leftover grilled chicken.  It was 90+ degrees outside.  I wanted to make the most of the time the oven was on, so I timed things to throw a loaf of whole wheat bread into the oven with the pie.  It’s the first homemade bread I’ve made in a few weeks and was worth the effort.

Panzanella Salad
1 or 2 thick slices of crusty day old bread, cubed
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 small English cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 lb thinly sliced roast beef, cut into strips
1 tablespoon capers
1/4 cup chopped mint and/or basil (I use a combination of both)
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine bread cubes, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, roast beef,  capers, mint, and basil  in a bowl.  Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and toss well. Let the salad stand for 10 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the juices.

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