Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Panzanella - Italian bread salad

Do you know what cucina povera means? It is an Italian term for the poor man's food. 
But nothing offensive. Peasant cooking means take the best from the ingredients you have on hand. Fresh ripe vegetables. Cheap cuts of meat and offals. Stale bread. The meaning is  cheap ingredients or ingredients you anyway have at home, simple recipe, rich taste.
In fact, bread and olive oil are two of the fundamental ingredients of Tuscan cookery and stale bread should not be wasted. So, Panzanella is a way to use a day-old bread. Roast or pan-fry the bread. Chop some ripe, but firm tomatoes. Add dressing and some more ingredients and you've got the summer taste in your plate, even if it is late spring outside. Bread soaks up all the juices from the vegetables and dressing and melts in mouth. Most of the recipes call for fresh basil as an ingredient, but I prefer to skip it in my version. I also substitute hot green peppers for the sweet ones used in the original. 
Italian bread salad
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 2 hot peppers (or 2 green peppers if you do not want it spicy)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • 10 olives
  • 2 slices of white day-old bread 
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
Italian bread saladDressing:
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp apple vinegar

Prepare croutons. 
Cut slices of bread into chunks and place them on a baking tray.  Drizzle some olive oil and roast in the oven for 15 minutes until they get golden and toasty.
Remove bread cubes from heat and set aside to cool.

Cut vegetables. Chop tomatoes and cucumber medium size and cut onion into rings. Cut hot peppers lenghtwise, deseed and chop. Place vegetables in a bowl and add olives and capers.
Whisk all the dressing ingredients thoroughly into a small bowl and place croutons into the bowl. Toss well to cover croutons from all sides. Add bread to the vegetables and pour the rest of the dressing onto the salad. 

1 comment:

  1. I like your recipe, its look yummy. Recently i tried this recipe and have good taste. ITALIAN CHOPPED SALAD , i hope this week i will try your recipe.