When my dad was growing up, and there was nothing to eat as a snack, my grandmother would take an old loaf of dry Italian bread, and sprinkle it lightly with water, oregano, salt, pepper, and olive oil. It was not as soft as a true bread salad and not as firm as a tomatoless pizza, but my dad enjoyed the snack.
Panzanella is an Italian salad traditionally made with bread, tomatoes, olive oil, and vinegar although historically, I believe it was made with onions. The bread is usually a day or two old (or longer) and is soaked in water. The water is squeezed from the bread before it’s broken up and added to the dish. Bread salad is a versatile dish; it often includes other ingredients such as cucumbers, beans, onions, olives, celery, carrots, garlic, or whatever ingredient is readily available.
Bread Salad Recipe
Prep: 10 minutes
- ⅓ loaf of 1-2 day old Italian bread (about 3 cups), cut into bite size pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 can (19 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup green pepper, diced
- 1½ cups diced tomatoes
- ½ cup celery, diced
- ⅓ cup red onion, diced
- ½ cup pitted black olives
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Parsley or basil for garnish
Put bread pieces into a bowl and pour the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over it. Toss and set aside. Rinse the cannellini beans and drain. Dice the pepper, tomatoes, celery, and onion and put into large bowl. Add the olives and cannellini beans. Add the 3 tablespoons olive oil and the red wine vinegar (add more if needed). Salt and pepper to taste. Turn a few times to make sure everything is coated with the oil and vinegar. Add the bread and toss everything together. Garnish with the parsley or basil.
YIELD: 6-8 servings