It's the end of summer and tomatoes are on our minds! Really ripe tomatoes are abundant--but not for long, so we're eating as many as we can before they are gone for the year!
Panzanella is a wonderful use for the super juicy tomatoes that come at the end of the season.
This Classic Panzanella Salad (Tuscan-style tomato-and-bread salad) recipe is perfect on its own for a light lunch or makes a delicious side for grilled meats!
What is Panzanella Bread Salad?
A Panzanella Salad is a traditional Tuscan bread salad flavored with vegetables--and a great way to use stale bread or leftover garlic bread! This salad is surprisingly complex and flavorful for such a simple ingredient list. When Anna-Marie created this recipe, she played around with adding sumac to the traditional recipe and found its slightly sour taste and hints of citrus fruitiness balances the sweetness of the tomatoes quite well. It's an addition we think is a keeper.
Panzanella is made with stale, dried bread that’s then rehydrated from a simple dressing of vinegar and olive oil with the addition of tomato juices that comes when really ripe tomatoes are sliced. An ideal make-ahead dish, this can be made up to 6 hours ahead of time. In fact, time only makes it better.
A few hints to help your Panzanella turn out deliciously the first time you make it
Pick out bread with a crunchy crust. In Italy, recipes call for country bread which is not a bread usually found in US grocery stores. Ciabatta works well as it has a lot of crust, but any crusty bread works. If you have a loaf of french bread that's sat too long to actually eat, that will be work!
Toast the bread in the oven. Even if your bread is extremely stale and hard, cubing it, tossing it with olive oil, and toasting it in the oven, will help the bread to toast to a point where it can easily absorb the dressing without becoming soggy.
Use really ripe tomatoes. Any kind of tomatoes will work as long as they are ripe--the kind of ripe where they are dripping with juice when you cut into them! If you use cherry or grape tomatoes, be sure to cut each one in half, so their juices are released. We like to use different varieties and colors of tomatoes to add extra layers of flavor.
The juice of your tomatoes are really important! Catch those juices that run out when you cut your tomatoes! And don't skip the step of salting your tomatoes and letting them sit. This step helps the tomatoes get extra juicy!
Panzanella needs to sit a bit before you dig in! While the salad sits, magic happens! All the ingredients seem to do a little dance together and everything just gets better! 30 minutes is a must, but 6 hours is about the limit you'll get before it all turns to mush!
Let’s Get Cooking!
Sumac Panzanella Tuscan Bread Salad Recipe
1 loaf of Ciabatta, Sourdough, or French bread
3-4 large Heirloom tomatoes (about 2 pounds)
1/4 cup Red onion slices
2 teaspoons Ground Sumac
3/4 cup + 2 TBS Arbequina Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Honey
2 teaspoons Pacific Flake Sea Salt, divided use
½ teaspoons freshly ground Tellicherry Black Pepper
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh basil
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Cube the tomatoes. Toss them in 1 teaspoon of salt and set aside.
3. Cube the bread and toss with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.
4. Place bread on a sheet tray and bake for 8-10 minutes until dry but not hard.
5. Make the salad dressing by combining remaining olive oil, wine vinegar, honey, 1 teaspoon salt, sumac, and pepper and whisk to incorporate.
6. Stack basil leaves, roll up the stack tightly and cut into strips (this is called a chiffonade cut)
7. Toss bread, tomatoes (and tomato juice that came out during the salting process), onions, dressing, and basil.
8. Allow to sit for at least thirty minutes for dressing to absorb into the bread.