Panzanella - a great way to use leftover bread
You know those drying butt-ends of sourdough bread from the previous bake that you leave sitting in a bag, in danger of being forgotten until it's too late? I hate wasting bread, so am always on the lookout for ways to use those leftover bits.
Cubed leftover bread makes great croutons, and of course you can keep yourself in good supply of bread crumbs using a food processor. I keep a bag of frozen bread crumbs in the freezer door, which I often top up.
One of my favourite uses for leftover sourdough, though, is in panzanella, a refreshing traditional Italian salad that is good all year round, but especially in summer. There are lots of variations, so don't hesitate to throw in any compatible ingredients you have on hand. The version that follows is one that has evolved over time in my kitchen. I think it's pretty close to qualifying as 'traditional'.
leftover sourdough or other bread (traditionally, ciabatta is used)
4 medium tomatoes
2 trimmed celery stalks, cut in diagonals
1 Lebanese cucumber
1 medium red onion
60ml red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
125ml extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup or more fresh-picked basil leaves, shredded or torn
Thin-slice onion and let soak in vinegar in salad bowl while you prepare rest of ingredients
Cut tomatoes into coarse wedges or cubes, add to bowl, sprinkle over sugar, grind over pepper, salt to taste
Cut bread into approx 2cm cubes
Cut celery into strips lengthways, then slice obliquely across in diagonals
Add bread and celery to bowl
Combine remaining ingredients in screw-top jar, shake well, pour over salad, and toss gently.
That's it! So quick and simple, and just delicious. Using top quality organic tomatoes, homegrown if possible, makes a big difference to the end result.