Panzanella: the forgotten salad
Archived in 2022
Originally posted on 27 Apr 2007
This morning I grabbed my loaf of Della Fattoria polenta bread and went to slice off a bit for breakfast. Solid. Well, not quite solid but pretty darn close. Drat. There’s still half a loaf here and now it’s wasted.
I was browsing a menu earlier today and saw panzanella listed there. “Of course!” I thought. “Why didn’t I remember that?”
It’s easy to forget about panzanella and just toss a stale bit of bread. This, I’ve decided, is some sort of culinary crime. A misdemeanor, but still a crime. Panzanella is not only a wonderful way to use leftover bread, it’s also a very satisfying and tasty one.
I sliced the bread into large cubes and added them to a large bowl. I’d been to Berkeley Bowl last weekend and had some asparagus tips which were still languishing in my crisper. Steam, shock, dry, slice then into the bowl. Cherry tomatoes, starting to head towards wrinkly? Quartered and added to the pile. Green onions (sliced), lemon zest, pinenuts, a vinaigrette of sherry vinegar and an abundance of EVOO. Kosher salt. Basil? Alas, there’s none on hand. Mix well then let it sit around for a while. Eat.
Use whatever you happen to have on hand. Add tuna or prosciutto if you want. Boiled egg. Olives. Whatever. You can go wrong here, but if you have a couple of culinary brain cells to rub together then you have a very good chance of success. So give it a try the next time you have some decent leftover bread lying on your kitchen counter.