First, I need to tell you that I updated this page.
Next, I need to tell you about Panzanella, the salad that I'm craving AGAIN as I write this post. It's so good. One of my favorite salads of all time.
I learned about Panzanella a few years ago.
My life was incomplete before the discovery of Panzanella.
I wonder what else my life is missing that I am unaware of?
So I made this salad to go with this cannelloni. It's perfect because panzanella takes care of a bread need and a salad need. It's like a two-fer.
Anyway, chop up your day-old bread (day-old is actually important, because if it's a little stale, it will crisp up in the oven better and then soak up the vinaigrette in the salad better. Definitely want day-old)
now toss it with some olive oil, salt, pepper and Parmesan.
It is an Italian salad, after all. So we needed some Parmesan.
Now bake the croutons until they're browned and crunchy.
We want them really crunchy so they will soak up the yummy garlicky vinaigrette we're going to pour over them.
Okay, while the bread is in the oven becoming croutons, it's a good time to chop up the veggies and put them in a bowl.
A big bowl.
Because this is a lot of veggies. I like tomatoes, cucumbers (sometimes I seed them, sometimes I don't), and red onion.
Okay, now work on the vinaigrette. Just whisk together the vinegar, oil, garlic, dijon and seasonings.
And remember to add the capers!
Capers are so weird. And salty. And good.
I could drink this stuff with a straw. Is that gross?
If raw garlic bothers you, just toss it with the bread in the oven. Just don't - by any means - leave it out.
Now! We're finally ready to toss everything together. Do it while the bread is warm, and it soaks up that garlic vinaigrette like a sponge. It's like croutons on steroids.
It's real Italian.
At least I think it is.
Whatever it is, it's awesome.
Inspired by Barefoot Contessa
2 English cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half-moons
2 pints grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 red onion, sliced in half and then sliced into thin half-moons
1/4 cup (about 10-15 leaves) chopped basil leaves
1 lb. day-old bread, cut into cubes
2 T olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 T capers
Toss the veggies in a large bowl. For the croutons, toss the bread with the olive oil, salt, pepper and Parmesan. Spread on a baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-25 minutes, tossing once, until the croutons are browned evenly and crunchy.
Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl. About 20-30 minutes before serving, toss together the croutons (preferably still warm) and the veggies and then top with the dressing. The warm bread will absorb the vinaigrette and will taste delicious. Serve at room temperature.