I’m not a picky eater by any means but I definitely have my quirks. I have a fierce hatred of ketchup, relish, and yellow mustard, though if you sneak those things into a cooked dish (say, ketchup in meatball mix), I’m okay. I’m not terribly fond of raisins either. Or most potato dishes, save for homemade mashed potatoes.
Another food quirk that has endured is my dislike of soggy bread. No breadbowls for this gal. I generally do not use bread to sop up sauces and such, to the chagrin of my sop-happy husband (olive oil bread-dipping is a-okay though!). So when Nick first suggested we make panzanella – a tomato and bread salad – I was a little skeptical. I thought the bread would become saturated, soggy, and tasteless. But guess what, that didn’t happen. The bread was crisp and flavorful and panzanella totally won me over! And it’s sure to do the same for you too. After all, it’s pretty much summer in a bowl and super simple to make.
Panzanella is typically made with a loaf of slightly stale white bread and tomatoes, sometimes with basil, cucumbers, capers, or celery thrown in for good measure. It’s dressed with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. It‘s a staple in central Italy but its popularity has transcended regional boundaries.
For our panzanella, we followed Chef John’s recipe (have I told you how much we love Chef John/Food Wishes?) I was particularly interested in his take since he pan-fries the bread cubes to ensure optimal crispiness and to guard against sogginess. It definitely works. Plus, he includes some Parmigiano-Reggiano in the process which only makes things tastier. So check out his recipe for a fresh, fool-proof panzanella. Or throw together some bread cubes, tomatoes, olive oil, and vinegar sans recipe and experiment! Either way, it’s sure to be delicious. I can’t wait to make panzanella again in late summer when our local tomatoes are at their peak!