Whole Grain Panzanella

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The idea for this post came from Mark Bittman, a culinary hero of mine. He has a recipe for a whole grain panzanella in his The Food Matters Cookbook, but I wasn’t crazy about his preparation. He calls for the toasted bread to be soaked in water, a step that didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to use a beautiful whole grain loaf of bread I had picked up at our neighborhood Farmers Market a few days ago. The bread was just beginning to dry a bit and was a perfect consistency for my salad.

I added some shards of Parmesan and toasted pine nuts to include a little protein, keeping with the Italian theme.

TIP: Add the basil, Parmesan and toasted nuts just before serving.

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side dish

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups whole grain bread cubes, about an inch in size
  • 1 red and one orange or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 a hothouse cucumber, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 cups of cherry or cut-up tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced and chopped red onion
  • 4 good-sized shards of fresh Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper (optional)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil

1. Using a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the bread cubes and toast, stirring frequently, until browned on all sides. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the peppers, cucumber, tomatoes and red onion. Set aside.

3. In a small, deep bowl, whisk together the vinegar and mustard. Add salt and pepper, if desired. Whisk in the olive oil.

4. Add the bread cubes to the vegetables and toss with the vinaigrette. Allow the salad the sit on the counter while you toast the pine nuts.

5. Roll the basil leaves into a cigar and slice thinly.

6. Add the toasted nuts, shards of Parmesan and fresh basil. Toss and serve.

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15 Responses to Whole Grain Panzanella

  1. Sunchowder -Wendy Read August 25, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    This looks to be a yummy salad! I wonder what soaking the bread in water would have done for it? Doesn’t sound appealing to me either. I always have leftover wholegrain bread, I am going to give this one a try 🙂

    • lizthechef August 25, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

      The croutons are a little too good…

  2. Elizabeth@MyCommunalTable August 25, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    I love anything that starts with fabulous bread, then you make it into amazing croutons. Yum. My mouth is watering.

    • lizthechef August 25, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

      Thanks, Elizabeth, but I have no idea why my photos are blurring when I post them here – any thoughts?

  3. sippitysup (@sippitysup) August 25, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    Summer salads may very well be my favorite thing about the season. This one is a winner. GREG

    • lizthechef August 25, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

      Thank you, Greg your week of summer salads is inspiring.

  4. TasteFood August 25, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    I love panzanella and agree with you about not soaking the bread. This is a great recipe, Liz!

  5. chezsuzaane August 26, 2011 at 12:53 am #

    This looks really wonderful, Liz! I can’t imagine why one would want to soak the bread in water. Soggy, watery bread reminds me a little of gruel, even if it’s toasted first. But slightly moistened with your dressing: wonderful! Can’t help but notice the lack of GREEN peppers BTW…:-)

  6. jaynerly August 26, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Panzanella is one of my favorite dishes, love it! Nice addition of parmesan and pine nuts!

    • lizthechef August 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

      Thanks, Jayne, any excuse to add a little Parmesan…

  7. Katherine Martinelli August 27, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    Yum! Mark Bittman is also my culinary hero and panzanella is one of my favorites – cannot wait to try this!

    • lizthechef August 27, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

      His cookbook is terrific and I plan to turn to it for inspiration on a regular basis.

  8. Oui, Chef September 2, 2011 at 1:07 am #

    This looks so fresh and delicious my mouth is drooling. My eyes are drooling too over that photo! – S

    • lizthechef September 2, 2011 at 1:31 am #

      Thanks, Steve, looking forward to what fall will bring in terms of inspiration from your kitchen. Hope you escaped the worst of the storm.

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