How to make a classic Panzanella salad

There is no better or sexier Italian salad than the Panzanella. A Tuscan salad rustled up primarily of two key ingredients; juicy ripe red tomatoes and stale bread or baked bread chunks as I like to use in this recipe. There are many versions out there on the old internet, but I prefer to keep it classic with just the addition of thinly sliced red onion, fresh basil and a generous drizzle of EVO.

To some this salad may seem so basic and simple. But that is the beauty of it. The key to a great Panzanella is abut using the best quality ingredients you can get hold of. It will elevate the flavours to high heaven and you would never have imagined that something so simple could make ou so happy.

Panzanella is one of those salads that represents sunnier times for me. Eating this salad is like having sunshine hit your face on a summers day. It makes me happy. Perfect as a light lunch on its own or served alongside pan-fried chicken, fish or meat.

Though it’s a super easy salad to recreate, I have shared some tips below to up-level it to the max.

Or if you wish, here is the recipe video, where you can watch me cook it in my Peckham kitchen.

Panzanella salad

Ingredients

  • 1 large slice of sour dough or a small ciabatta

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Sea salt

  • 1 red onion

  • 250g tomatoes on the vine

  • Fresh basil leaves

  • Red wine vinegar

  • Black pepper

Directions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200c. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Tear your bread into crouton sized bites and lay them on the baking tray. Drizzle over with 1 -2 tbsp of olive oil. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden brown.
  • In the meantime, slice your red onion into half-moons. Sprinkle salt on top of the onions and set them aside for 10 minutes.
  • Slice the tomatoes into wedges and add them to the onion (after the 10 minutes) and tear fresh basil on top.
  • Next, create a dressing. 1 tbsp red wine vinegar with 4 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over your salad.
  • Add the croutons, five minutes before serving.

Tips

  1. No tip
  2. Make sure to massage the olive oil and salt into the bread with your hands. It will make sure it’s well flavoured and seasoned.
  3. Sprinkling salt onto your onions will help draw out any bitter juices. They will be lovely and sweet enjoyed raw.
  4. It’s better to tear your basil with your hands to maintain the ultimate flavour and aroma. Over chopping you basil can make it bitter.
  5. Make sure you dip a piece of tomato into your dressing to make sure that you’re happy with the final flavour before you pour it into the rest of the salad.
  6. Don’t add the croutons too early on as they may absorb too much dressing and become soggy. As I always say, you never want a soggy crouton.

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