Panzanella is a yummy healthy Tuscan salad loaded with delicious juicy tomatoes, fresh fragrant basil, cucumber, toasted bread cubes, onions, and Parmesan cheese shavings. It’s usually dressed with olive oil and vinegar. Panzanella is most often served in the summer when tomatoes are at their peak. But spring is in the air and summer isn’t far behind and I couldn’t resist making this dish for a Cookbook Club meeting last week.
A Cookbook Club you wonder, what’s that? Well, a Cookbook Club is a group of friends all making recipes from the same cookbook or cooking blog and gathering to share the results. It’s great fun. You make one dish and get to taste many! Collaborative entertaining with a crowd-sourced feast! Our group the Chef’s Table Cooking Club is relatively new and meets monthly for lunch. So far we have made recipes from Dori Greenspan’s, Around my French Table, Tallahassee Junior League’s, Thymes Remembered and our most recent luncheon featured dishes from Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman Cooking Blog. Our next culinary adventure in April will be from Yotam Ottolenghi’s The Cookbook. If you are interested in learning more about Cookbook Clubs and how to organize one, click on this link to the Serious Eat’s Website and their article which sparked the whole idea.
But back to last week, what a feast it was! In addition to my Panzanella Salad, we had a Tomato Tart, which by the way won the award for “Best Dish”, Kale Citrus Salad, Sesame Chicken Salad, Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Zucchini and Feta, Mediterranean Orzo Salad, Ham and Scalloped Potatoes, The Best Macaroni Salad Ever, Roasted Carrots with Vinaigrette, and No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars. Everything was delicious and our hostess set the stage at her home with the cutest Pioneer Woman themed decorations. Everyone had a wonderful time!
To make this delicious Panzanella Salad, gather your ingredients which are: a loaf of very crusty Italian bread (you can substitute French bread, but don’t tell the Italians), a whole English cucumber, tomatoes, a red onion, olive oil, red wine vinegar, basil leaves, salt and pepper and Parmesan shavings.
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees.
Cut the bread into 1-cubes, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Toss to combine. Bake the bread for about 25 minutes. You don’t want to toast it, just dry it out and crisp it up. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
In the meantime, add 1/4 cup olive oil, to 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste in a small mason jar and shake well.
Approximately 1 hour before you are ready to serve this salad, place the bread cubes, cucumber, tomatoes and onion in a large bowl and toss to combine. Pour on the salad dressing and add 3/4 of your basil and Parmesan shavings and toss again. Garnish with the leftover basil and Parmesan shavings and cover and allow to sit at room temperature until you are ready to serve it. (No, the bread cubes will not get soggy.)
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