We went over our friends house to sit on their beautiful new porch for appetizers and drinks. My friend Suzy is a great cook and I always enjoy going over their house to try something new she has whipped up and this day was no exception.
She had a wonderful spread of sliced cold cuts like roast beef and turkey and cheeses, raw veggies with dip, some grilled asparagus and this wonderful Panzanella Bread Salad. It was perfect for a warm summer night.
The best thing about this salad without a doubt is the huge chunks of fresh cubed bread. They look like small croutons in my picture but they are nice big chunks of cubed bread.
Be sure to get a big loaf of crusty Boule bread or something fat and round from your local bakery. Bakery bread makes all the difference when it comes to homemade croutons.
The combination of the crunch of the outside of the bread combined with the unexpected soft center is simply delicious. Then all this vinaigrette just bursts in your mouth that the bread has soaked up.
Add to it the contrast of the crunchy peppers with soft tomatoes and cucumbers – yum! What puts it over the top is the saltiness from the capers.
Man oh man~this bread salad is awesome! I made it tonite for dinner! 🙂
For the Toasted Bread:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small boule loaf of bread cut into 1-inch cubes (make them twice the size of crutons)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Vinaigrette:
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons champagne (or white wine) vinegar
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Salad:
- 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and cubed
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- ½ small red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
- 20 Kalamata olives
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained
- 10 large basil leaves, roughly chopped
To Toast the Bread:
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and then add the bread cubes. Sprinkle with salt and cook over medium heat, tossing frequently, until the bread is toasted and golden brown (about 7-10 minutes.) Remove from the heat and let cool.
To make the Vinaigrette:
- In a small bowl, add all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette and whisk together until well blended.
- To finish the Salad In a large salad bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber slices, red and yellow peppers, onion, basil and capers and olives
- Add the bread cubes and vinaigrette and toss to coat.
- Allow the bread to sit for 30 minutes before serving for the best flavor.