Continuing the Italian Theme: Panzanella
My baking this weekend was good, but not novel. I baked more of Sylvia's sandwich buns to have with Bulgogi. Still I feel like I should contribute a blog post this week. So, here's one of the many excellent recipes using stale bread (a plentiful commodity in our household). "Panzanella" (which I believe means "Nell's trousers" in Italian) is a Florentine salad, according to Wikipedia.
As with so many things, it is magnificent if you have great ingredients. The real key is to use excellent tomatoes (not a problem in California in July). My recipe differs from most I've seen in its use of Pancetta. My theory is that most salads are better if they have bacon in them, and Italian salad calls for Italian bacon. It adds a nice additional flavor. If you don't have access to Pancetta, I think American bacon would do fine. (Eric, I bet Pastrami would work too if you upped the mustard in the vinaigrette).
GSnyde’s Panzanella Salad
Servings: 4 side dish or 2 main dish
◦ 3 tablespoons olive oil
◦ 3 1-inch slices of French bread (2 to 3 day old is best)
◦ 2 medium size firm ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
◦ 1/2 of an English cucumber, sliced 1/2-inch thick
◦ 1/3 of a red onions, thinly sliced
◦ 10 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
◦ 2 1/8” thick slices Pancetta, cut into ¼ inch pieces (optional)
◦ 2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmagiano cheese
◦ 1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
◦ 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
◦ 2 tablespoons champagne (or other white wine) vinegar
◦ 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
◦ 1/3 cup good olive oil
◦ 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
◦ 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan.
2. Add the bread; fry over medium heat, turning frequently, until nicely browned. Then cool on paper towel. When cooled, tear into bite size pieces.
3. In a separate pan with a bit of olive oil, fry the Pancetta until brown.
4. Whisk all the Vinaigrette ingredients together.
5. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, basil, and Pancetta.
6. Add the bread pieces and toss with the vinaigrette, 1 tsp of the Pancetta drippings and the Parmagiano.
7. Season liberally with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Before serving, allow the salad to sit for 20-30 minutes (tossing occasionally) for the flavors to blend.
I made this salad last week with Tartine Basic Country Bread and it was fabuloso. I tried it this week with leftover Focaccia and it turned to mush. I think you gotta use a firm hearth bread.
I hope you enjoy it.