Sunday Dish: Panzanella

It has been hot here in the D.C. area recently.  With the stifling temperatures and high humidity, the last place I want to be is in a overheated kitchen.  However, I have been wanting to try two new recipes (one from “The Joy of Cooking” and the other from 17 and Baking), so off to the kitchen I went…thank goodness for air conditioning.

While I baked a batch of Blueberry Coconut Cream Scones that 17 and Baking featured in an earlier post, my main focus was on making Panzanella.  Panzanella is a bread salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and other fresh vegetables.  It is a refreshing main course that does not have meat as the star taste.  If you want to serve this with a steak, knock yourself out.  However, this salad is good enough on its own.  With crunchy bread as the star, a wonderfully seasoned vinaigrette, and fresh vegetables, I paired this with Williamsburg Winery’s Susan Constant Red, which is a light red with smooth flavors of plum and black currant.

Panzanella (Adapted from “The Joy of Cooking”)

Ingredients:

1 loaf Ciabatta bread (Italian bread works well too), chopped into 1-inch cubes

Vinaigrette:

1/3 c. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1/3 c. Red Wine Vinegar

1 Shallot, minced

3 tbsp. Lemon Juice

3 tbsp. minced parsley

1 tsp. minced garlic

First, bake the bread cubes in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.  While the bread is baking, whisk together in a small bowl all of the vinaigrette ingredients together.

Take the bread cubes out of the oven to cool.  While the bread cubes are cooling, begin chopping the following vegetables:

2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)

3 Roma Tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 medium onion (red or yellow, which is what I used), cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/3 c. pitted kalamata olives, halved

1/3 c. torn basil leaves

In a large salad bowl, place the bread cubes in the bowl, then place all of the chopped vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, olives, and basil leaves) in the bowl, and toss with vinaigrette dressing.  Add parmesan shavings to the bowl before serving.

Wine recommendations for this dish:

I would recommend a light red wine with this dish.  Of course, you could always pair a Chardonnay or a Pinot Grigio with this dish as well.  The other red wine I would suggest is Chrysalis Vineyards (Va.) Sarah’s Patio Red or Rubiana.

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