Panzanella is an Italian chopped salad of soaked stale bread, tomatoes and other tasty ingredients that is popular in the summer. This version is from Tyler Florence – celebrity chef on the Food Network and cookbook author. Tyler’s top-notch recipe appears in his cookbook “Eat This Book” and it avoids the usual soggy bread by frying torn pieces of it in oil. If the bread has a thick crust, remove some or all of it.
2 garlic cloves
3 anchovy fillets
¼ tsp each: kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp capers, drained (optional)
About ½ loaf Italian bread, torn into bite-size pieces (8 to 10 cups)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 roasted red bell peppers, cut in pieces *
1 pint (about 2 cups) cherry or grape tomatoes
½ small red onion, chopped
1 english cucumber, peeled, cut in ½-inch/1-cm cubes
½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn in pieces
¼ cup celery leaves, torn in pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400F.
For dressing, finely chop garlic, anchovy fillets, salt and pepper together on cutting board, then mash with side of large knife. Transfer to small bowl; whisk in lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil. Stir in capers, if using.
Place bread pieces in large bowl. Toss with olive oil. Spread on baking sheet(s) in single layer. Bake in oven until crisp and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
In large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add dressing; toss to coat. Just before serving, adding toasted bread; toss together. Taste; add salt and pepper if necessary.
Makes about 6 side-dish servings.
* To roast peppers, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on barbecue grill over medium-high heat or on baking sheet under oven broiler and roast about 10 minutes, turning at intervals, until charred and blistered all over. Place in bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let sit about 10 minutes. Remove seeds and cores; peel off skin.