Show off your garden with Panzanella
By Chef Andy Mueller, Gallery 57 Green Bay
A Tuscan toasted bread and fresh tomato salad may be just the ticket for you to enjoy and show off all the tomatoes you don’t always know what to do with. Before they become sauced or canned for storage, make this bright yet satisfying easy to make Panzanella and your taste buds will thank you all summer long.
This is one of those recipes that have very few ingredients, so each one must be of the best quality and prepared correctly. The unique characteristic of this salad is it contains no lettuce. Instead it features lightly toasted bread and tomatoes as the two main ingredients with a light vinaigrette and fresh herbs to make it explode.
The tomatoes should be as fresh as possible and if you can pick them from your garden, you’re on the right path. The only tricky part of the recipe is to make sure you toast the bread lightly – we are not looking for a crouton crunch. We are trying to achieve a soft toast that is lightly golden but still gives when you press it between your fingers. Day old bread is beat as we don’t want any moisture left before toasting – the texture will be gummy. Dried and lightly toasted bread will absorb the liquid from the tomatoes and the vinaigrette and offer a bite with great texture and punch.
Many variations exist and there are very few rules on ingredients other than fresh tomatoes, toasted bread, vinaigrette and fresh herbs. This recipe includes sliced bell bell for color and crunch, and marinated artichoke hearts which add a creamy texture to contrast all the bright fresh flavors.
The whole process takes about 20 minutes and as the bread toasts, you can prep and assemble all the other ingredients. When the bread is finished toasting, remove it from the oven, let it cool for a few minutes then toss everything together in a large bowl, let rest for fifteen minutes to let the flavors harmonize then serve. Enjoy!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Using half a loaf day old and dry bread – ciabatta, Italian or a rustic artisan style bread, pull apart sections of bread. You don’t want sliced bread as this is a rustic salad and needs to look the part. Place the pulled bread and place in large mixing bowl. Add:
Enough olive oil to lightly coat. Add small amounts at a time, toss, repeat until pieces are lightly coated.
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
4 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Toss to evenly distribute, bake on a sheet pan for 10 to fifteen minutes or until lightly golden.
While the bread is baking:
In a large bowl add:
1 small sweet red, yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
Fresh tomatoes, cut into wedges. Depending on the size and shape of your tomatoes, amounts will vary. The best way to measure is you want equal parts tomatoes and toasted bread. If you yield Three cups toasted bread, add 3 cups tomato wedges.
1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
10 large basil leaves, roughly chopped
For the dressing:
In a mixing bowl add:
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh garlic
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon sugar
Whisk together then drizzle in while whisking:
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Add small amounts of the vinaigrette at a time to the panzanella until everything is coated and tossed evenly. Let rest 15 minutes to let the flavors harmonize, whisk just before service. Enjoy!
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