I love a good crusty loaf of bread, but unless I’m having friends over, I can rarely finish an entire loaf before it’s hard enough to cause injury.
At this point, most people would throw the bread away, but my Japanese upbringing always leaves me with a nagging feeling of my mother saying “mottainai”, or “what a waste!”. In Italy, people take a similar approach to food, where nothing is wasted and stale bread is often turned into breadcrumbs.
Panzanella salad is another great use of stale bread. It’s one of my favorite summertime salads, highlighting the sweetness of sun-ripened vegetables, while harnessing the stomach filling volume of bread.
But panzanella salad isn’t simply a clever use of old bread and seasonal vegetables. The salt in the dressing draws out juices from the veggies and the crusty bread soaks it up resulting in a magical mouthful of tender juicy bread with a crunchy olive oil and garlic flavored center. Put simply, this salad is as delicious as it is practical.
This panzanella salad recipe from Marc Matsumoto of No Recipes is more than a clever use of old bread and seasonal vegetables. The salt in the dressing draws out juices from the veggies and the crusty bread soaks it up resulting in a magical mouthful. See the full post at the Fresh Tastes Blog.
- 10 ounces very ripe tomatoes chopped (include any juices)
- 1 Japanese cucumber or 2 Lebanese cucumbers, chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced onion or shallot
- ¼ cup olives or capers, chopped
- 5 ounces stale crusty bread, torn into small pieces (about 3 cups)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 10 leaves basil, hand-torn
- For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (halve if using table salt)
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Stir a few times and when the oil is fragrant, add the bread. Toss to evenly coat the bread with oil, then fry over medium low heat until the bread is crunchy and has taken on some color. Salt and pepper to taste, then set aside to cool.
- Put the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and olives in a large mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the vinegar, mustard and salt, then whisk to combine. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and stir until some juice has come out of the vegetables.
- Add the bread to the vegetables and toss to combine. Let the salad sit for at least one hour to allow the flavors to absorb into the bread, stirring a few times to make sure the bread gets evenly soaked. Add the basil, stir to combine, then serve.
Yield: 1 serving
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.