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Panzanella is a delicious dish that originated in Italy centuries ago and continues to be a staple of Italian cuisine to this day. If you are wondering what panzanella is, you may have heard it before referenced by a different name. This unique dish is often called tomato and bread salad or stale bread salad. The second name points to the origin of this dish. This recipe utilizes your stale bread. Have you ever made or bought fresh bread only for it to be hard as a rock three days later? Me too! That is where this recipe comes in. We will be giving that stale bread a second life and preventing it from turning into food waste by mixing it with fresh veggies and soaking it with a delicious dressing!
For this recipe you will need some bread. I recommend you use some sort of fresh made bread. I love using sourdough, but you could use any bread. The types of bread I don’t recommend using are super soft breads full of preservatives: pre-sliced sandwich bread, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, you get the point! I do not think these breads would hold up well to the soaking process. If you are interested in learning how to make your own sourdough bread, check out my blog page all about sourdough!
Does the bread have to be stale?
No it does not! I recommend utilizing this recipe when you have stale bread to help prevent food waste, but you can make it with fresh bread as well. Simply cut the bread into cubes, toss with olive oil and bake in the oven on 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Be sure to give them a toss about halfway through baking to ensure they are cooked evenly.
In this recipe I use tomatoes, cucumber, shallot, and fresh herbs and it is absolutely delicious. However, I do not want you to feel limited in the veggies you can use. This is the perfect summer salad or side because you can use almost any vegetable from the garden that you want! Feel free to put your own spin on the recipe and add in summer squash, green beans, peaches, or roasted root vegetables.
On the day I made this, I used i’itoi onions, which are like a small shallot, but they have been grown by the Native O’Odham people of the Sonaran Desert for countless generations. Considering that I live in the Sonoran Desert, they grow incredibly well here and I wanted to use what I already had on hand. If you want to learn to grow your own veggies too, head over to my gardening page to learn the basics and get started!
I highly recommend using fresh basil in this recipe. It is a simple recipe with only a handful of ingredients, so the ingredients you do use really have a chance to shine. Even so, we are all in a pinch sometimes, and if that is you just substitute the fresh herbs for dried. It will still be super tasty!
- 6 cups of bread cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1.5 pounds tomatoes (about 2 large)
- 1 shallot
- 1 cucumber
- 3 ounces mozzarella cheese (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup basil roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp dijon or stone ground mustard
- pepper to taste
- If needed bake your bread cubes until lightly golden on the edges, about 15 minutes
- Dice tomatoes, red onions, basil, and cucumber. Add to large bowl
- Salt tomatoes to cause them to create juices. Let sit for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, to a small bowl whisk together red wine vinegar, olive oil, pepper, garlic and mustard.
- Add bread and vinaigrette to large bowl and toss
- Let sit for 30 minutes to 4 hours then serve (does not save well for leftovers)