Italian Bread Salad (Panzanella)

Panzanella is an Italian salad using day-old bread that is toasted and tossed with tomatoes.  I like to tear the bread before toasting it, which gives it a more crispy texture.  Of course, using ripe summer tomatoes is the best way to enjoy this salad, but cherry tomatoes any time of year will be delicious too.

3 Pounds Heirloom Tomatoes or Cherry tomatoes
1 loaf of crusty Italian bread  (I use Farrell Bread)
1/4 c Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 c. Torn basil leaves
6 cups mixed salad greens
1/2 red onion sliced thin into half moons

1/4 c Olive Oil
1 T Balsamic Vinegar
1 T Red wine vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
1 Clove garlic

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove crusts from bread and tear into 1” pieces . Spread pieces on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Toss with your hands to coat. Bake for about 30 min or until toasted throughout. Set aside to cool

Cube the heirloom tomato into large 1” cubes and place them into a colander over a bowl  to strain off and collect the extra liquid. Season generously with salt and let stand for 20 minutes. Reserve strained juices.

For vinaigrette, mince garlic into a paste, using the flat side of the knife to crush the garlic. In a medium bowl combine the reserved tomato juice, both vinegars, dijon mustard and  garlic paste. Whisk to incorporate and begin to slowly drizzle in olive oil.

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce greens and thinly sliced red onion. Season with salt and pepper. Add enough vinaigrette to the greens to coat and toss. Add tomatoes and half of the toasted bread and the remaining vinaigrette. Toss until well combined. Add in the last of the toasted bread. Toss and serve right away.

SaladsEvan Wei-Haas