Whenever I go to New York City, I make sure to eat at Da Silvano, and I make doubly sure to eat the Panzanella, which is basically bread salad. On one particular trip, a friend of ours loved it so much that she ordered one for her appetizer and one for her entree.

Image credit: New York Times

Dining alfresco at Da Silvano in New York City. Image credit: New York Times

I love the opening description of this salad from the Da Silvano Cookbook books.google.com:

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Good enough for an appetizer, salad or entree.

Italians are very resourceful people. Give us anything, even a loaf of stale bread, and we’ll find something to do with it. In fact, stale bread is the basis for one of our favorite summer dishes–panzanella, a refreshing salad that’s dressed with a lot of red wine vinegar to bring out the best flavor of the tomato, cucumber and peppers.

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Key to the salad for me was Blue Dog bread, a couple of days old.

 

Panzanella

Da Silvano Restaurant, New York City
This Italian staple is a refreshing salad that combines wonderful flavors and textures.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Salad
Servings 4 -6

Ingredients
  

  • 2 sweet bell peppers
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 loaf of country bread aka "boule" with crusts cut off and cut into 1" cubes
  • 3 tablespoons loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 red onion cut in half, then sliced into 1/2" slices
  • 2 small cucumbers peeled and cut into 1/2" slices
  • 2 to matoes cut into 1" cubes
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Fine sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Instructions
 

  • Rub each pepper with one tablespoon of olive oil. Roast peppers either over an open flame, your grill or your broiler. Place peppers with skin on in a plastic bag until cool. When cool, take a paring knife and peel away the skin. It should come off easily. Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds.
  • Cut into 1" squares and set aside.
  • Put bread into a stainless steel bowl and drizzle one cup of cold water over it. Allow the bread to soak for 10 minutes.
  • Squeeze the water out of the bread and return it to a dry bowl.
  • Tear up the basil leaves and add them to the bowl with the bread.
  • Add the pepper pieces, onion, cucumber and tomato.
  • Add the remaining olive oil and the vinegar.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Toss well, taste to adjust the salt and pepper and serve.
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

 

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Don’t waste the crusts. Save them for croutons or dip in olive oil for an appetizer.

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A great use for all your juicy, end of season tomatoes.

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Roasting peppers is so easy. Roast a few and save for future use. After roasting, put whole peppers in a plastic baggie for 10 minutes. Skin will peel right off.

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Squeeze all the water out of the bread.

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Add basil to the crumbled bread for the first layer of this salad.

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Put all cut vegetables on top. Drizzle red wine vinegar and olive oil on top. Mix and let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

I hope you enjoy this salad as much as my family does. I want to thank my late Aunt Sandy Harmon who introduced me to this restaurant and this salad many years ago.