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.
I love the opening description of this salad from the Da Silvano Cookbook books.google.com:
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.
- 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 tomatoes, cut into 1" cubes
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- Fine sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 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.
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.