Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Panzanella My Way

What a great sense of thrift the Toscani and people of several other neighboring regions have developed over the years. Never letting anything go to waste, they developed panzanella and pappa al pomodoro to use up day old rustic bread. Last summer I decided to give it a try without benefit of a recipe and I came up with this. The type of long green pepper I used is usually quite mild but this one happened to have some heat and that only improved the salad. Perfect for a hot day in the country.

1/2 day old baguette
6 medium to large tomatoes
1 small red onion
1 long green pepper ( approximately 2"x6")
1 English cucumber
1 small handful of fresh basil
red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
flaked sea salt to taste

After cubing the bread, mix it with roughly chopped tomatoes and set aside. Thinly slice the onion as well as the pepper and place them on top of the other ingredients. Peel and cube the cucumber, then mix with all the other ingredients. Chiffinade the basil and add that also. Once you've dressed the salad with the oil and salt toss it, then toss it a second time with vinegar and serve.

I never measure my salad dressings, but I use roughly twice as much oil as vinegar and always add salt and freshly cracked pepper at the same time as the oil, just before tossing. I never add vinegar until after the oil has already been tossed into the salad. Use a light hand with dressings on salads and you'll have a much lighter, fresher tasting salad.

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