Panzanella, your classic Mediterranean tomato-bread salad is a great way to play up end-of-season tomatoes and use up tired bread, too. Plus, it feeds a crowd. You can stretch and embellish it by adding any number of ingredients, including drained chickpeas, chopped cooked green beans, kalamata olives, diced cucumber or chopped roasted peppers, but at heart, the recipe relies on good bread and ripe tomatoes.
Panzanella can be heavy on the oil. Here, the dressing features the collected juice of chopped tomatoes, keeping it light and bright.
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 large ripe tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic or rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 loaf day-old rustic whole grain bread cubed (about 6 cups), crusts on, if you please
- 2 cups fresh herbs chopped -- parsley, cilantro, basil, mint, basil, dill, arugula, or in any combination
Smash garlic and dice tomatoes and place them in a colander over a bowl, so you catch all the tomato juice. Leave in a cool spot for an hour or longer, or refrigerate overnight.
Whisk olive oil into tomato and garlic juice for a minute, or until emulsified. Add cumin, red pepper flakes and coriander. Whisk in vinegar.
Tumble bread cubes onto a generous platter or serving bowl. Pour half the dressing over the bread. Mix gently. Wait a few minutes so the bread can absorb the flavors.
Scatter in the herbs, and finally the tomatoes. Add the remaining vinaigrette, mix gently and serve.
Recipe doubles easily. Sturdy enough to survive sitting around at a picnic or buffet.