Today I picked up some french bread on the discount shelf at my grocery store for $1. The bread was a little dry which made it perfect for tonight’s dinner, panzanella.
Panzanella or bread salad is a great way to use up dry leftover bread. Dry bread, unlike fresh bread, will soak up all of the delicious flavors without becoming soggy. Basic panzanella is typically bread, tomatoes, and olive oil. But I wouldn’t stop there. Panzanella is a great way to use up a surplus of delicious summer produce. Panzanella can be served as a side, main dish, or even dessert. Here are a couple of panzanella recipes for you to try.
- Bread: Panzanella is best when you start with dry bread. Fresh bread will become too soggy when mixed with the dressing. Traditionally, panzanella is made with a loaf of white crusty bread, but that isn’t your only option. Try using cornbread, pitas, or even rye bread. The sky is the limit. If you don’t already have dry bread you can toast it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. You want the bread to be dry but not rock hard.
- Dressing: This is a great time to break out your best olive oil. It is one of the main components in panzanella and contributes to so much of the flavor. You can also add vegetable or fruit juices, vinegar, and mustard.
- Protein: To make panzanella a complete meal, add in a combination of meat, beans, or cheese. Stick with cheeses that won’t melt. Try using parmesan, feta, chunks of mozzarella, or ricotta.
- Vegetables and Fruit: Use fruits or vegetables that will add some juice and help soften the bread. Tomatoes are traditional but you could try peaches, cucumbers, or berries. Also consider adding some hardier ingredients like radicchio, peppers, or raw onion for some nice crunch.
- Herbs and Seasonings: Finish the dish with some fresh herbs, spices, salt, and pepper.
- Time: The bread in panzanella needs time to soak up all of the delicious flavors. Make your panzanella at least 30 minutes and up to four hours in advance.
Looking for more great summer recipes? Check out my post on 16 Delicious Summer Dinner Recipes.