There used to be a great restaurant in the Capital Hill area of Seattle that was mediterranean, El Greco. It was there that I was first introduced to bread salad, or panzanella as it’s also known as. I was such a big fan that I have since recreated it at home all the time. It’s pretty simple but one of the keys to this is to toast the bread first, then oil it and rub it with cloves of garlic. WARNING! This has a lot of garlic in it. But you can always cut it back. This recipe also uses a couple of what I consider essential kitchen items. First a really good knife designed for veggies, especially tomatoes. I love my Wusthof Classic Wave, Black. Unlike a flat edged knife, this one won’t “tear” your tomatoes. The other is a chopper. I’m not a big fan of devices that only have 1 purpose but this is an exception. It does a much better job than I can mincing garlic. I have a Cuisinart Stainless Steel Chopper, which is pretty inexpensive. Again you can always modify the amounts in this for the most part to suit your taste. Enjoy!
- 4 slices of good bread, cute 1 inch thick
- 12 oz cherry tomatoes (or similar), quartered or halved
- 1 bunch of basil, chiffonade*
- 1 bulb garlic, keep about 4 of the largest cloves whole and mince the rest
- 3/4 cup olive oil, divided into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
In an oven set to broil and toast each side of the bread until golden brown. While still warm brush each side with 1/4 cup olive oil and then brush each side with the large, intact cloves of garlic.
In a large bowl add the quartered or halved tomatoes, minced garlic and basil. *So what does chiffonade mean? Basically take the basil leaves, roll them up like a cigar and cut thin slices. Mix together the remaining oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper; I just use a jar to do this. Pour into the bowl.
Cut the bread into cubes, roughly the same size as the tomatoes. Add them and toss, just before you service as you don’t want them to get soggy.