Enjoy the bounty of summer with this easy to make, nutritious and delicious classic Tuscan salad.
Panzella is said to date back to the 1500's when the Italian poet Agnolo di Cosimo Tori, (aka Bronzino), wrote glowingly about the merits of combining onions and cucumbers with oil, vinegar and toast. Tomatoes were added later when they gained popularity.
The zesty vinaigrette dressing enhances the rich color and taste of tomatoes. Cucumber and basil add fresh garden flavor, but it is the grilled crusty bread that makes this salad special. Unlike simple hard croutons, the grilled bread absorbs the dressing and natural vegetable juices and makes the salad chic country. It is both satisfying and fresh.
Panzanella pairs well with broiled or grilled salmon filets. Just brush the filets with a little olive oil, sprinkle on some fresh or dried Italian herbs and cook. You can also serve small red potatoes. Wash them, but leave the skins on and brush lightly with olive oil. Top with chopped parsley and roast for about 30-40 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
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Makes 6 servings.
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 15 fresh basil leaves, chopped coarsely
- 1 medium cucumber, seeded (or English cucumber) washed, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 Tbsp. green olives, pitted and chopped (capers may be substituted)
- 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
- 1/2 large red onion, cut in half and then 1/4 inch slices
- 1/2 small loaf crusty whole-grain French or Italian bread, cut into 1-inch slices, halved
- In mixing bowl whisk garlic, mustard, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and set aside.
- In large bowl gently combine basil, cucumber, tomatoes and olives.
- Brush bell peppers and onion slices on one side with oil mixture. Place oil side down on hot grill and cook for 3-4 minutes. Brush other side with oil mixture, turn over and cook an additional 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from grill. On cutting board, slice peppers into 1/2-inch slices and separate onion rings. Add to vegetables. Add oil mixture and toss to coat.
- Toast both sides of bread until nicely browned.
- On a serving platter layer bread and top with vegetables and basil mixture. Toss bread with vegetables if desired. Serve.
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
11 g total fat
2 g saturated fat
22 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein
4 g dietary fiber
187 mg sodium