The Panzanella recipe makes a beautiful and delicious Tuscan 'bread salad' with homemade croutons, colorful bell pepper and tomatoes, crunchy cucumber, and fresh basil, dressed with Champagne Vinaigrette. It's name comes from the Italian words for bread (pane) and small basket (zanella.)
Originally created to use up leftover bread, it is now a dinner party delight. But you can still make it with leftover bread.
Whatever can be cut up into 1-inch cubes, is.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more
4 cups French bread cubes, about 1 inch each
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large tomatoes cut into 1-inch cubes or equivalent cherry tomatoes
2 cups yellow or red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, quartered and thick-sliced
1 cup whole black olives
10 large fresh basil leaves, chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons capers, well-drained
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
First, prepare the croutons:
Pour the olive oil into a large sauté pan or skillet and heat. Stir in the salt. Add the bread and sauté, tossing often, until the bread is lightly browned, 10-15 minutes. Add more oil as the croutons may need to finish browning.
Next, prepare the vinaigrette by whisking the ingredients together. Set aside.
Finally, prepare and mix the remaining salad ingredients together, tomato, bell peppers, onion, cucumber, black olives, basil, and capers. Add the prepared French bread croutons, pour in the vinaigrette, and toss. Salt and pepper to taste and toss again. It's best to give the salad about half an hour for the flavors to marry. How romantic.