With all of the wonderful farmer’s market produce available in July and August, a different spin on the traditional tomato, cucumber and onion salad is to fix a Panzanella salad. A popular Italian (especially Tuscan) salad, there are many variations of it, but at its core it includes bread, fresh ripe tomatoes, cucumbers and onions tossed in olive oil and vinegar. Here’s a favorite way of making it that we love – we substitute wine or red vinegar with Balsamic vinegar, and add a sprinkle or two of our Land & SEAsoning.
- 1 pound two-day-old country-style (or French or Italian) bread, crusts removed, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 6 cups). Note: avoid rolls, focaccia, sandwich bread, and other super-soft bread varieties. Obviously, stale bread is optimal, but you can always cut fresh bread into cubes and toast in the oven prior. (We typically, use 2-3 day old bread to make Panzanella. Stale bread has developed structure, so it’s not going to fall apart as it soaks up the vinaigrette.)
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes at room temperature, cored, seeded, and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
- 1 medium red onion, sliced into single pieces
- 1 large cucumber, halved and seeded with skin on, sliced into ½” wedges
- 12 fresh basil leaves, shredded, plus a few extra sprigs for garnish
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ tablespoons Balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Optional: Seeded yellow pepper sliced into ½” strips
- Optional: squirt some Balsamic glaze on top for added taste and appearance
- Optional: ½ teaspoon of Land & SEAsoning
- Toss the bread, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, yellow pepper (if desired) and shredded basil leaves in a large bowl until well mixed.
- Whisk together vinegar and oil in a small bowl or measuring cup; season with the salt and pepper and if desired a dash or two of Land & SEAsoning for added nutrition and flavor.
- Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the salad and toss to mix thoroughly.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and let the salad stand 10 minutes before serving.
- Decorate with a drizzle of Balsamic glaze (optional) and sprigs of fresh basil.
Another variation is to add a can (15.5 ounces) of white Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained and cube some good Provolone or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to pump up the protein for a well-balanced vegetarian meal.