Posted by: timscooking | June 17, 2010

Farmers’ Market – Day Two Panzanella

Day Two of my farmers’ market challenge and I’m thinking about making something light for dinner after the leftover eggplant parmigiana for lunch. Panzanella or bread salad is just the ticket. Panzanella is about as simple a recipe as anyone can make, so all you cooking novices had better take notes.

No one knows the exact origin of panzanella, although it is probably a rustic dish that was first made in the region of Tuscany in Italy. The basic ingredients are day old bread, tomatoes, red onion and a simple dressing of red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. You will want to use bread that has some substance to it, like a French or Italian loaf. I had the rosemary olive oil bread I had purchased at the market. I also had the sweet peppers and dill that I could use.

This is one of those salads that you can improvise depending on what you have in the fridge or the pantry. Some recipes call for bacon, canned tuna in oil, or salami, assorted herbs such as basil, parsley or rosemary and a variety of vinegars, but again, this originated as a simple rustic dish, so the above ingredients I listed were probably all the early cook had to work with. The recipe I have here is based on the produce and bread I purchased at the market on Saturday.

Serve with a glass of Pinot Grigio or some sparkling mineral water with lemon for a light and refreshing summer meal.


  • 3 c. Rosemary olive oil bread cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 c. yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 red onion, small dice
  • 2 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber,  yellow pepper, and red onion. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with the chopped dill. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend. The longer it sits, the tomatoes will start to break down and the bread will absorb more of the flavor.


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