Thursday, December 18, 2014

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

This is not your typical leafy lettuce kind of salad. This salad actually does not contain any lettuce at all.
The main ingredient is toasted seasoned pieces of Italian bread, tossed together with various olives, tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts and fresh mozzarella chunks, in a simple oil/vinegar dressing. Well, at least that's how I do it!

 Legend has it that Panzanella Salad came from Italy as a way for Italians to use up day old bread by mixing it with delicious tomatoes and basil from their gardens. This salad was usually made during the summer months when gardens were blooming with these ingredients. These days grocery stores carry these items all year long. So why wait until summer. 

Panzanella Salad always gets lots of attention at my dinner table...and there are usually never any leftovers because the flavor is fabulous! The toasted, seasoned bread pieces absorb all of the juices from the other ingredients, but still stays firm. So you get a perfect bite every time.

If you have never tried Panzanella Salad here is your chance. And if you have tried it then you know what I'm talking about...*smiles*

Panzanella Salad
Panzanella Salad

6 cups day old italian bread, chopped into bite size pieces
1/3 cup + 1/4 cup olive oil, extra virgin
salt & pepper to taste
3 large cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 Tbls. balsamic vinegar
1 small container cherry tomatoes, cut into halves 
3/4 cup sliced red onions
10 basil leaves-chopped fine 
1/2 cup pitted and halved green olives
1/4 cup pitted and halved manzanilla olives
1/2 cup sliced, marinated artichoke hearts
1 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into bite size pieces

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, toss bread pieces with 1/3 cup olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Lay the seasoned bread pieces on a baking sheet, and toast in the preheated oven until golden, about 5 to 10 minutes; allow to cool slightly.

3. While the bread is in the oven, whisk together 1/4 cup of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

4. Gently toss together the bread, and all remaining ingredients.

5. Toss with the vinaigrette and let stand for 20 minutes before serving.

Serves 8

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