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Rustic Tuscan Panzanella Bread Salad

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Traditional Tuscan bread salads start with bread that stales quickly, having been made without salt. Here, I rub it with garlic and brush with oil, then throw it on the grill, to get an even tastier result.

Rustic Tuscan Panzanella Bread Salad

  • Yield: 8 - 10

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups tomato juice (or two 5.5 ounce cans)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 6 Salt-Packed Anchovies, soaked for 5 minutes, rinsed, bones pulled out, and patted dry
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound loaf 1-2 day-old chewy good-quality bread (I like sourdough with seeds), cut in 1 ½” wide slices (about 5 slices)
  • Garlic and oil to brush the bread
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes (combo of red and yellow), cut into large chunks
  • One 12-ounce jar of roasted red peppers, drained and diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 bunch of watercress, stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 bunch scallions (about 5 or 6), sliced
  • ½ cup pitted oil-cured black olives
  • One 4-ounce jar of caper berries in brine, drained
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley

Preparation

  1. Make the vinaigrette: Combine the first six ingredients in a blender and puree until the garlic and anchovies are incorporated. With the motor running, pour the olive oil in a thin stream, until all is incorporated and the dressing is emulsified.
  2. Rub the bread slices on both sides with a smashed garlic clove and brush with olive oil. Grill over a hot grill or toast both sides under the broiler or in toaster. Let cool, and then tear into large bite-sized pieces. You should have about 8 cups of bread chunks. Spread out on a sheet pan and let “stale up” a bit more. You can prep to this stage several days ahead. Once they are dried out, store in a zip bag.
  3. Two hours before serving, toss the stale bread cubes with ¾ cup Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette. Set aside.
  4. When ready to serve, add the remaining ingredients and toss with additional vinaigrette, as needed.

Recipe Tags

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This recipe will make about 2 ⅔ cup of Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette. The Panzanella will use about 1 ½ cups. It's so tasty you won't be sorry to have leftovers. I stopped short of giving you the ratios needed to fill a tub, but you may want to bathe in it. Just sayin.

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