Check out my foodie adventures at Foodspotting and Foodgawker

Friday, August 8, 2008

Panzanella: Italian bread salad

When I moved to San Francisco back in 2004 (gasp!), everyone told me that the summer months are generally cold, overcast and grey, and that October was the best month for sunny nice weather. I didn't believe them (read: I didn't want to believe them). It's true, I grew up in Maui so my general idea of seasonal weather is all screwy...but I still didn't believe them. There is just something hard wired about expecting June, July and August to pour down sunshine right down on a pool with me sitting next to it with a cold lemonade or margarita in my hand. You too?! Maybe the movies created a vision of summer that I just never spliced with reality or a specific locale. Turns out, for the most part, "they" were right about the weather--it was grey when I wanted it to be gorgeously warm and sunny (except for that strange summer last year when it was sunny and pretty every day of the summer that I had to spend indoors studying for the California Bar Exam and then, lo and behold, like magic omniscient weather, it got grey and windy and cold for the EXACT 3 days I had to take the exam!). Regardless of what the weather is like, I am a rebel when it comes to foods you're "supposed" to eat during certain types of weather because I am from Hawaii so I just never adapted to that way of thinking--I make soup in the summer and eat hot noodle soups even when it's hot outside. I sometime crave ice cream when it is raining. I long for rustic winter vegetables in August...

And any day is a good day for some bread salad, if you ask me....Panzanella might be one of favorite salads--the perfect combination of bread cubes lightly tossed with the flavors of fresh tomato and basil and olive oil!In addition to being a great salad, it is the perfect accompaniment for roasted chicken or other meats because it combines the veggies and starch in one...not to mention it is a lovely way to get all your leftover veggies (or that lingering jar of olives) out of your fridge and into a happy belly. I first started thinking about making panzanella one summer day when it started appearing everywhere--every swanky cafe had it on their menu, various food network chefies started making their own version (try Michael Chiarello's recipe for Pea Panzanella), and I started craving it everywhere I went until I finally made it myself one day (and then made it again about 3 more times in the same week).


* 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
* 1/4 tsp. anchovy paste (optional)
* juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
* 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
* 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
* 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar


* 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
* 1/4 red onion, minced
* 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
* 1 Tbsp. baby capers
* handful of basil leaves, torn or shredded
* 1 loaf of rustic bread, cut into cubes
* olive oil for drizzling
* 2 cups of fresh spinach or mixed greens
* 2 cups of ripe tomatoes (heirloom, early girls, cherry tomatoes or vine ripened tomatoes), roughly chopped
* 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
* salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste


* Make the dressing (whisk together in a bowl) and set aside to let it sit so the flavors combine.
* Put the bread cubes on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and pop them in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes until they turn lightly brown (then set aside to let them cool and they will become crunchy!)
* Combine the rest of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and mix.
* Just before serving the salad, lightly toss the bread croutons into the mix.
* Garnish with additional parsley and basil.

No comments: