Panzanella …. My Way

IMG_3520You know, I think that I’ve made it quite clear that I’m a sucker for a loaf of bread fresh out of the oven…and it doesn’t matter if it’s my oven, or someone else’s oven. There is a little bakery (Okay, I say little, but it’s quite the production) called DiCamillo’s in Niagara Falls that bakes a pretty mean loaf of Italian bread. When I’m there, the first thing I look for is a piece of cake (their frosting is to die for), and a couple slices of pizza for Mike. And their molasses cookies. I can’t get past them. They’re soft and chewy with a sprinkling of big granules of sugar…and so, SO delish.

But…it’s the bread…the thing that brings me there each and every time..and I can’t help but buy the large loaf, knowing full well that it will go stale before we can eat the whole thing. It’s seriously that big, but it’s so darn delicious.

I’m totally okay with the bread going stale, because it never goes to waste. It will either end up in meatballs, I’ll make breadcrumbs with it, french toast, or this beautiful panzanella salad.
IMG_3504A traditional panzanella or panmolle is made up of day old bread, tomatoes, basil…sometimes cucumbers and onions…drizzled with olive oil and vinegar. The bread soaks up the deliciousness of the tomatoes, olive oil, and vinegar.

It is seriously delicious just like that.

Of course…I think you know me by now….I usually don’t go for making the traditional…I’m going to make it my way…with, most likely a few extra calories…. the way that I like it…and the way that I think you would like it if you were coming over for dinner.

Which, I hope, is very soon.
It’s always an open invite.

IMG_3521I start out traditional with the tomatoes…slicing them thin and placing them around the platter. Make sure you eat a couple slices or more while you’re doing this… because it won’t be long before we’re eating store bought instead of farm fresh…a huge difference…

Next comes the bread… Normally you’d break it into pieces and toss it into the bowl, and I do, but then I toss it into a frying pan with melted butter and garlic, and fry it until it’s browned and crisp on the outside, but with that soft chewy center. The garlic is a necessity for me in this salad, it just gives it such a great background flavor.

And then I tend to go for creamy and briny. Burrata cheese is perfect for this, because it breaks open, and that lovely combination of cream and mozzarella spills over the tomatoes and bread. I love to chop Kalamata and Sicilian olives on top of the mozzarella, as well as a heavy sprinkling of capers. A handful of toasted pine nuts finishes it off wonderfully.

IMG_3500I know I’ve said it before, but I love a million flavors going on at once…and the creaminess from the cheese, saltiness from the olives and capers, sweetness from the tomatoes, the nuttiness from the pine nuts, the smokiness from the sautéed garlic, the fresh taste of basil, and the acidity from the vinegar…for my tastebuds…work together to make the most perfect panzanella salad.

I’m not sure…can I say that I’ve achieved umami?
But I’ll just call it a perfect blend of delicious flavors..

A panzanella that totally tickles the tastebuds, yet is so pretty…that I would happily set on the table just for you…my most honored guest.

Life is good…it’s a “I don’t know who thought of throwing stale bread and tomatoes together, but I’m really glad they did…” kind of good..

IMG_3513Panzanella…My Way
Serves Four (Or Two, if I’m involved)

Just a quick note about this salad…. I really don’t have measurements for the ingredients, and all I can say is to be heavy handed with everything. By heavy handed, I mean generous…and make it the way you think it would taste good… If you think you would want more basil, then by all means, tear up some more over this salad. If you want to throw some fresh parsley over it, then I say “oh yeah, do it!!” Go crazy, and have fun with it! There is no right or wrong.

2 large heirloom tomatoes, (your favorite color) sliced thin
1 or 2 smaller heirloom tomatoes in different colors, chopped
Stale bread, broken into pieces (about three cups)
1/2 stick butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
A good handful of basil, torn into pieces
Capers, about a tablespoonful or more
A mixture of Kalamata and Sicilian olives, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
Pinenuts, toasted (about two tablespoons)
Olive Oil, your favorite brand (start with a tablespoon)
Balsamic Vinegar (you get what you pay for when it comes to balsamic) (start with a tablespoon)
A peppermill

Place the tomato slices around the outer edge of a platter, overlapping them.

Melt the butter in a medium sized frying pan, and add the bread pieces. Saute the bread until golden brown, and a couple of minutes before removing the bread from the pan, add the garlic and saute until the garlic is golden brown, and has mixed throughout the bread. Spoon the bread to the inside of the tomatoes around the platter.

Break the burrata open, and place in the middle of the platter.

Sprinkle with the chopped colorful tomatoes, chopped olives, capers, pinenuts, and basil. Generously drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Top with fresh ground pepper.

Serve immediately while the bread is still warm.



72 thoughts on “Panzanella …. My Way

  1. This is a comment, not a criticism. I always like having specific amounts given, because it is common sense that I will use them how I like them. But for a new recipe, iI personally like specific amounts, which gives me a gage of approximately what it might be. Particularly with liquid amounts such as olive oil and vinegar.

    • Thanks so much for your input, Tammy! You’re right, it is common sense…and I believe that I did give approximate measurements for the ingredients, except for the oil and vinegar…and I apologize for that. How about we say a tablespoon each of both the oil and vinegar, and then you can judge from there? Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m so glad you did. 🙂

  2. I didnt read the contents but just looked at the pictures and found myself going MMMMMMhhh – so loudly that significant other in the room down the hall walked over and said “what are you looking at”– that salad looks amazing and the bread looks amazing too – very swiss looking bread in fact! Looks like a bürli, which is a delicious roll that is airy on the inside and has a brown crunchy and chewy exterior – yum!

  3. Simply delicious. I am just baking bread right now, more than we really need, and the tomatoes are still pouring in from the garden, so this is perfect for tonight. In fact, I have everything – it just needs putting together.

    • Of course you’re making bread right now, Hilda. 🙂 Why does that not surprise me? Because you’re so good…so, SO good. I wish I could bottle up just an ounce of Hilda energy…I’d be set for life! ❤ I hope you made the salad… let me know what you thought! ❤

  4. Yum, YUM Prudy! Panzanella was made for people like me who go more for the bread and meat part of the salad than anything else lol I’d love to give this a try with some freshly made bread- thanks for sharing ❤

  5. I think you’ve added all the right things in my book — love the capers, pine nuts, cheese and olives. Can’t think of what else I myself would add!

  6. Yes, yes, yes… all the garden tomatoes now when they are delicious……like this salad. Must make it now before those tomatoes are gone.

  7. I would happily come over for dinner if this was on the menu! I ADORE panzanella, and it’s even more delicious when the bread is a little bit fried 😛 My mum fries her panzanella bread as well, you can’t beat it!

  8. I would expect nothing less than you making it your own. You rocked it lady, looks amazing. I’ll have to check that bakery out next time in Niagra. My sister may move out that way. We should do coffee and cake and bread

  9. I’m coming over, right now! But it’s 2 am! Something woke me, I guess this salad did. Can’t sleep now after I saw this. 🙂 Work starts tomorrow (or today I should say) and I didn’t have the chance to get my pedi done, maybe that’s why I’m so anxious. Or maybe it’s this salad all along. 🙂

  10. Wow now this picture I would have never recognized as a panzanella – it is a meal not a salad (can you hear my voice spitting out the word “salad”…. :-> ) Love it!

  11. Oh gosh…my mouth is watering just looking at these photos! I’ve actually never had panzanella, traditional or otherwise, but I have to say, your version looks downright amazing!!

  12. This is so beautiful. I love bread too! The cheese you use and the olives and capers! This is my kind of salad. How beautiful! So rustic and perfect. I’m totally doing this .

    • Thank you Karen! I just love that burrata, it just makes the panzanella a special treat. I always know it’s a winner when all goes silent at the table! It’s so darn good! I almost wonder if I built the salad with the burrata in mind, or if I really built the salad with the bread in mind.. 🙂

  13. Oh Prudy – I am on my way! I love how you have assembled this and burrata is the icing on the cake as it were…the bakery sounds fantastic – must remember to ask you for tips if I am ever over there xx

  14. Oh Prudy – I’ve given up wheat because of migraines. How on earth will I survive without a taste of this salad!? With fried bread no less. Heavenly. And I love that you didn’t name the quantities. I wouldn’t follow them anyway! xo

    • Thomas! Thanks so much for stopping by, it is so nice to see you here! And thank you… this truly is a great salad. While I was snapping these photos, my daughter and her boyfriend were standing off to the side, just waiting for the last photo to be taken! I put it in the middle of the table, and we all just grabbed forks, and started eating right off the plate! There was no pride, or etiquette, or anything like that…just pure pleasure. 🙂

  15. We are all suckers for warm crusty bread, slathered in butter, in fact I prefer just tearing off a piece, not slicing it. It tastes even better. The only I reason I cook from scratch is to suit my palate so I agree with the idea of making it “your own way” and being generous, after all we don’t cook daily. I love the sound and look of your salad. It is delicious.

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