Food is Love, Love is Food.

A blog devoted to the connection between meals, memories and the special moments in our lives.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Early Summer Salad: Faux Panzanella

Have you ever found yourself thinking about something, and somebody else mentions that very thing, then you can’t get it out of your mind? That is what happened to me this week, and, of course, it involved food. I was talking to a friend about Panzanella, that yummy toasted bread, tomato, cucumber and basil salad, suggesting that she could make it for an outdoor party she is having. It is perfect: nothing to wilt in the hot sun, and the more it sits, the better it tastes. It is cool and refreshing as well. Then, I found myself with three fourths of a leftover loaf of good Italian bread (Sperlonga, from Wholefoods), which was past its prime, and my husband happened to mention that we could make Panzanella with it. All within days of my conversation with my friend. Serendipity! I had to make it. The only problem, of course, was that it is not prime tomato season yet, and I would have to make do with mediocre supermarket tomatoes. They clearly could not be the star of the show, as they are in real Panzanella. I wanted the salad to be a meal rather than a sidedish, so I improvised, made a few changes and substitutions, and viola! A perfect early summer salad. It has everything I love best. And although my husband is getting a little tired of hearing me declare: “I could eat this every night for dinner!” in this instance, it is really true.

For the salad:  (makes 4 good sized servings, enough for dinner)

5 cups baby arugula
1 ½ cucumbers, peeled, sliced into rounds, and then cut into half circles
4 large tomatoes, cut into chunks
½ medium red onion, sliced thinly
large handful kalamata olives, cut in half
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
10 whole cloves of garlic confit (see recipe)
large handful fresh basil, ripped
¾ to 1 loaf of good crusty Italian Bread, cut into cubes (great use for leftover bread!)
2 tbsp. garlic oil (see recipe)
sprinkling of kosher salt

Place bread cubes on a cookie sheet, drizzle with 2 tbsp. garlic oil, and toss to coat. Add salt, and place in oven at 350 degrees. Turn cubes every 5 minutes or so while toasting. Cook for about 15 minutes, depending on how dry the bread was, until the bread cubes are lightly browned and very toasted. Set aside to cool.
Combine all other ingredients in a large shallow bowl.


6 tbsp. garlic oil
sprinkling of red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar, to taste.
1 tsp. salt

Toss with salad ingredients. Toss in the toasted bread, and add more oil and vinegar if necessary. Serve and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. wow!i love veggies. specially when its done like this! thanks so much for sharing your recipe!