Monday, October 4, 2010

Panzanella-My way

I just spent two hours picking my tomato plants clean of ripe tomatoes, cutting many of the leaves to allow for more sun to hit the remaining fruit, and harvesting lots of basil before the cold weather kills the plants. It is a warm and sunny Autumn day in the Bay Area, so I am hoping for more ripe tomatoes in the next week or so. Every year in July I tell myself that I will not plant that many tomato plants again, but then in September and October I change my mind when I get to eat the fruit of my labor.

Panzanella is a summer salad originated in Tuscany, and like many dishes of the "cucina povera" (literally poor cuisine), it is a way to use stale bread, Ribollita is another example. A little olive oil and balsamic vinegar turn this simple dish into something delicious. I don't know you, but I could eat tomatoes all summer long.

There are many versions of this dish and traditionally the bread is soaked in water before adding it to the tomatoes. I like mine with plenty of basil and a shallot vinaigrette made with balsamic vinegar, which is a little French I guess. Sometimes I add cucumber, string beans, or corn to the salad.


2 C bread, cut in cubes
1 T extra virgin olive oil

3 C tomatoes
1 medium shallot
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T extra virgin olive oil
Basil, salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle the bread cubes with 1 TBS of oil and bake at 350F until dry and lightly colored. While the bread is in the oven, mince the shallot and add it to the vinegar (this will soften the onion and impart a nice flavor to the vinegar), marinate for 30 minutes. Add the remaining oil to the vinegar, mix well, add to the tomatoes and their juices, toss with the cooled bread cubes, and adjust the seasoning to your taste. Serves two.

Buon Appetito!


Anonymous said...

There's nothing like home grown tomatoes and together with beautiful bread, olive oil, basil & balsamic...delicious

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A splendid panzanella! That is something I have never made... I really have to make that dish soon.



Simona Carini said...

I wish i could make panzanella with homegrown tomatoes! If you get tired of eating tomatoes, you can try roasting them and then preserving them. I am actually trying something of this sort right now. I'll probably use freezing over canning, as the canning process is a bit laborious. I like the shallot vinaigrette idea.

Laura said...

peasepudding, I agree, tomatoes taste so much better when home grown, I only buy tomatoes in early summer when mine are not ready.

Rosa, try this salad, it is light and super fast, especially if you already have stale bread.

I don't have that many extra tomatoes, but I have canned few. I bought a package of roma tomatoes that turned out to be something different and not so tasty, plus a san francisco fog variety that tuned out a real disappointment. As they become ripe I use them to make tomato sauce, and since they are really watery I have to reduce the sauce a lot, so the yield is really small. I hope that one day you will be able to grow your own tomatoes, maybe in a community garden.

Anna said...

Cara Laura
ho appena scoperto il tuo blog attraverso il commento che hai lasciato su Cannelle & Vanille.
Che bel blog e che belle ricette!!
Condivido fortemente anche il tuo commento sulla vita degli expat.
In compenso questi spazi virtuali ci fanno incotnrare nuovi amici!

Gaia said...

Ciao Laura!
We love panzanella too!
To be honest, I think vinegar is not mentioned in the real recipe, but panzanella is so customizable, the you can put inside everything you like!
Real panzanella is made just with bread, basil, tomatoes, sometimes sliced cucumber and thin slices of onion from Certaldo, which is near Florence.
But i'm sure you cannot find it there!
a hug

Laura said...

Anna, abbiamo qualcosa in comune, come tutti gli espatriati...viviamo in un limbo, tra due mondi...Dove sei negli USA?

Gaia, bentornata nel mondo cybernetico! Ho letto del tuo nuovo forno, non vedo l'ora di vedere altre meraviglie che farai. La panzanella e' cosi' buona! L'ho finita ieri ed era ancora piu' buona con il pane che aveva assorbito il sugo dei pomodori....Le cipolle di cui parli non le conosco, e di sicuro qui non si trovano.

Taylor said...

This looks so comforting and yummy. I love the tomatoes and the colors together!!

Unknown said...

I love tomato salads and this panzanella sounds so delicious! In the tropics we grow our tomatoes in the winter however this winter has not cooled very much and we have had a lot of no tomatoes for me! You are so lucky! Enjoy!


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