Panzanella is a classic Italian summer salad. It’s also a great way to make use of stale bread, which is toasted then infused with the salad’s flavorful juices.
This recipe uses arugula for a bit of fresh spice. Be sure to use a high-quality olive oil for best results.
- 5 cups day-old, rustic-style bread (such as baguette or Italian country bread), cut into ¾-inch cubes (about ½ of a baguette)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ small red onion, minced
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 3 large beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1½ pounds tomatoes)
- 10 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
- Arugula or other baby greens (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
Put the bread cubes in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add ¼ cup of the olive oil and toss so the bread is lightly coated.
Spread the bread evenly, in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and place it in the oven to toast for about 10 minutes, until it is light golden-brown and toasted.
Remove the bread from the oven and set aside to cool.
While the bread is toasting, combine the onion and vinegar in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the remaining olive oil until combined.
Once the bread is cool, add the tomatoes and basil to the oil and vinegar mixture, season with additional salt and pepper if desired, and toss gently to combine.
Let the salad stand for about 10 minutes so the juices can soak into and soften the bread. Place the panzanella on a platter or individual plates,
top with whole leaves or strips of fresh basil and serve immediately.