I wasn’t really trying to make a panzanella when I created this dish–I just wanted a way to enjoy the fabulous tomatoes I got at the farmers’ market and use up some very crusty (read: almost stale) bread. Apparently, a traditional panzanella would also include onions and probably cucumber, as well as vinegar. Vinegar would be a nice addition to my salad, but frankly, that would take away from the simplicity of enjoying the fresh tomatoes. These tomatoes were so good, I almost just ate them like apples. And I think that is key: this recipe would not work with the mealy tomatoes in grocery stores in February. Relish this when tomatoes are at their peak and you want any excuse to indulge in their juicy goodness. Mmm…it’s making my mouth water…
Cooking time: 25 minutes, plus some time for letting the bread soak up the juices
Servings: 1 main course serving, or 3-4 sides
- 3 ripe tomatoes (I used two red, one yellow)
- thick, crusty bread on its way to being stale (don’t use regular sandwich bread for this)
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- fresh basil leaves
- freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano
- Slice/saw the bread into about 1/2 inch cubes. Use anywhere from 1 to 1 1/2 cups. Toss these into whatever bowl you are going to eat out of.
- Chop the tomatoes into 1/2 inch pieces. Add tomatoes and their juice on the cutting board to the bowl of bread. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes.
- Sprinkle with salt. I measured out 1/8 tsp and used almost all of it…and I am not a huge salt person.* Toss the mixture. Let stand anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. The longer it stands, the more juices the bread will absorb…but the longer you have to wait to enjoy the tomato goodness!
- Add pepper, basil and cheese before serving.
* Salt brings out sweetness, so it is exceptional with tomatoes, even for someone like myself who normally cooks with little to no salt. Additionally, the salt helps draw the juices out of the tomatoes so the bread has more to soak up. But don’t go overboard with the salt, or you’ll cover up the flavor of the tomatoes. Plus, it’s not good for you. 🙂