Don’t let the summer pass you by without enjoying a bread salad packed with fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes and other summer bounty.
Most people add these “salad ingredients” to a green salad, but we suggest a different type of salad: panzanella (pon-zon-ELLA), a Tuscan bread salad.
Panzanella isn’t as popular in the U.S. as it should be, and we don’t understand why. It’s easy to make and a great use for day-old or two-day-old bread.
Restaurants, take note: You should have plenty of yesterday’s bread, along with customers eager for some panzanella.
The bread doesn’t have to be stale. You can lightly toast fresh bread, which is what is done in the recipe below.
Panzanella has long been an easy way to make a meal from whatever is in the kitchen or garden. A peasant food, it has crossed over as a treat for foodies. Here’s the history of panzanella.
Panzanella can be a first course or a main, vegetarian or topped with proteins. Here are some of the recipes we’ve enjoyed in prior seasons:
Our colleague Hannah Kaminsky has given panzanella the Indian-Middle Eastern fusion treatment, incorporating garlic-flavored naan (available in many supermarkets) and curry powder from India, and chickpeas and tahini from the Middle East (photo #1).
“Salads aren’t just leafy greens and mix-ins like carrots and celery, most commonly associated with the word.
“Once you peel back that initial concept, ‘salad’ is a stunningly diverse universe of culinary possibilities.
It was only a matter of time before I used one of my favorite breads, garlic naan (photo #2), into a flavorful bread salad that I shoveled into my mouth by the forkful.
“Lightly toasting it to a crisp exterior and bestowing it with a golden curry dressing, this is a combination I could eat on repeat all summer long, and well beyond.
“Feel free to expand upon the vegetable inclusions based on what you have available, or go crazy with your own creative addendum. As we’ve established, a salad is anything you want it to be, if you just believe in it.”
This recipe is vegetarian. You can make add your favorite protein: grilled chicken, fish or tofu; prosciutto or salame; shrimp; or a combination.
Some leftover lamb roast worked great for us, as did some fresh basil from our window herb garden.
The recipe also takes a slight twist. Panzanella originated so the vinaigrette could soften stale bread. Here, the naan is toasted to be crisp, like croutons.
RECIPE: CURRIED NAAN PANZANELLA (BREAD SALAD)
Ingredients For 2 Entree Salads Or 4 First Courses
1. TOSS the sliced tomatoes and cucumbers with half of the salt. Set aside for about 15 minutes to draw out some of the excess liquid. Drain the extra water they’ve given off. Meanwhile…
2. COMBINE the sliced naan with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and spread the pieces out in an even layer on a baking sheet. Run under the broiler in set to high for 10 to 15 minutes, until toasted golden brown and crisp. (Editor’s note: We used our toaster oven. The consistency is different, but it works.)
3. WHISK together the remaining oil, lime juice, tahini, curry powder, black pepper, and remaining salt to create the dressing. Toss everything into a large bowl, including the drained vegetables, toasted bread, dressing, chickpeas, and cilantro, and mix well to combine. Serve immediately before the naan can get soggy.