Thursday, August 14, 2008

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad) for Barefoot Bloggers

It's Barefoot Bloggers time again. Just under 100 of us are working our way through the wonderful recipes of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, posting them the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month. Check it out here. (and if enough of you link to the site from here, I might get to pick a recipe earlier than my turn in November--hint, hint!) This first recipe for August is Panzanella (or Italian Bread Salad) and was selected by Melissa, of It's Melissa's Kitchen and is from The Barefoot Contessa Parties (page 102) or you can find it at Food Network here.

In the book, Ina notes that: "This salad was invented by Italians to use up leftover bread, but I make it because I love the warm croutons soaking up the vinaigrette".

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)
Barefoot Contessa Parties

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained

For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Notes: I made a few minor changes to the recipe. The large tomatoes in the store didn't look so great and I didn't make it to the Farmer's Market this week so I bought a small container of little cherry tomatoes of different colors, which looked much better. Yellow bell peppers were $6.99 a lb and red bell peppers were $1.99 a lb--I'll let you guess which kind I bought! I figured I could get some nice yellow color from the tomatoes anyway. The champagne vinaigrette I had was a citrus flavored one but I think that was a nice enhancement to the overall flavors of the salad. I also halved the recipe and it made lots for just me.

Results: Excellent! I LOVE this recipe and will make it again. It would be great for a party or BBQ. It is easy to throw together and doesn't take any fussing around and the flavors are wonderful. I was excited when I saw that Melissa picked it and bought the ingredients to make it on the weekend but then had my refrigerator melt down on Saturday. I kept most of the ingredients in coolers as the new fridge was being delivered today and of course I was the last delivery of the day and they didn't leave my house until after 6:30. I had to wipe down the interior with baking soda & water before let it get to temp so by the time I started making this it was about 7:30. At this point as much as I wanted to try this recipe I wasn't in the mood to make much effort. I threw it together, not paying much attention to the bread cubes, or anything else for the matter and just plowed through making it and still it was delicious. I ate a large portion for dinner and like Ina, especially enjoyed the croutons with the olive oil and vinaigrette soaked in.

Thanks Melissa for a great recipe choice! You can check out the rest of the BB's and their results with this recipe here. The next regularly scheduled recipe is Butterflied Chicken chosen by Stefany of Proceed With Caution on the 24th and there is an optional Bonus Recipe on the 21st, California Grilled Pizzas picked by the wonderful Rebecca of Ezra Poundcake (for having the most referrals to the BB site here again--hint, hint!).


  1. The salad looks great! We loved it too. We were lucky that both peppers were on for 2.49 a pound as usually they are $5+
    I was looking at your gift from Laureen - we go through a lot of Fisherman's Friends here in Canada. A must for Canadian winters and tender throats.
    Congrats on the new fridge - how many cupcakes does it hold?

  2. This was a big hit in my house! I nearly fell out of my chair when you told me the price of the peppers! Salad looks great!

  3. Wow! The yellow pepper didn't make it into my salad either, but it was on $3.49 lb here. The yellow tomatoes look great, though. So, are you lovin' the new fridge?

  4. Your salad looks great! I loved this recipe too-I can't wait to make it again. All our peppers are always the same price at one of the supermarkets I go to and that's usually 2.49 a pound. I'm glad because I really like yellow peppers (and orange too) they seem milder.

  5. Oh yum! Your panzanella looks so colorful and delicious! The yellow cherry tomatoes added a great touch. Glad you loved this recipe! I can't wait to make it again with a just a little less kick.

  6. I'm impressed. The salad looks great and you made it while fridge-handicapped! I thought it was yummy too.

  7. I'm sorry to hear about your refrigerator... but it's always exciting to get new appliances, right?
    Thank goodness it wasn't a complicated recipe- it was delish! Glad you enjoyed it. And uh- good call with $6.99 bell peppers. I would have skipped too.
    ~The Cat's Pajamas

  8. My fridge had a meltdown last month, so I'm feeling your pain! Gorgeous panzanella. A salad my husband will eat!

  9. My salad got the yellow pepper and not the red since the yellows were on sale...crazy! Glad you liked it and you now have a new fridge!

  10. Wow you salad looks beautiful. I love the cherry tomatoes. Holy goodness for the bell peppers. I all three at aldis for about 1.50

  11. Your salad came out great! This salad is a family favorite! Enjoy your new fridge!

  12. I would have loved those cherry tomatoes. I left out all the peppers for their price. It looks so good and congrats on the new fridge.

  13. Looks great! I used the multi-colored cherry tomatoes too. They looked so pretty in the salad.

  14. Very nice recipe. Ina Garten and Alton Brown should run all of Food Network. Everyone else can go cook at Applebee's

  15. Your salad looks wonderful! I love the colors and the tomatoes look perfect.

    How do you like breaking dawn? Did you read the Host (did I ask you already? :) )

  16. Deb the salad looks very tasty. I love Ina. I really like her laid back, yet professional way of cooking. I have to be in the right frame of mind to appreciate Alton Brown. He's so smart, but there are times when his sense of humor doesn't quite sit right with me. Otherwise, he's great. Thanks for the great post.

  17. I love panzanella! This looks great. And I see we have similar taste in fiction!
    Madam Chow


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