Panzanella salad is a crafty little way the Italian folks use up their leftovers. However, we can purchase fresh bread and let it stale for a couple of days to be able to accomplish one of the most delicious salads on the planet.
The variety of breads in this salad make the whole thing shine with their different flavors and textures. It is important though that you choose rustic breads for this recipe, as they need to be crunchy enough that when you apply the salad dressing they soften slightly, but still maintain some texture.
My suggestions for breads and the those which make the best croutons, such as:- ciabatta, pumpernickel, country French, rustic Italian and sourdough just to get you started.
Note: Please do not run out and purchase individual loaves for making this salad. You can still mix your breads by purchasing individual rolls instead. If you have a specialty bakery in your city, this would be the place to go to obtain a good selection.
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
6 cups assorted rustic bread cubes
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 ears of sweet white corn, shucked
2 pints (small cartons)cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp. dark balsamic vinegar
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 cloves fresh garlic paste (instructions follow)
2 cups English cucumber, small dice
Red Wine Vinaigrette
3 tbsp. reserved red wine vinegar from recipe
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1. Combine the bread cubes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss well to coat and bake for approximately 7 - 10 minutes or until the bread is nice and crunchy. Set aside to cool. Combine the shallots and the red wine vinegar and set aside on the counter for 10 minutes or more. Drain and reserve the vinegar.
2. Combine the sweet corn and the cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast on a cookie sheet until the tomatoes have popped, approximately 20 minutes. Set aside to cool and chill in the refrigerator.
3. While the tomatoes and corn are cooking, make the dressing by combine the reserved vinegar, basil, oil, salt, pepper, and garlic paste. Whisk thoroughly and refrigerate until ready to use.
To put the Panzanella together, combine all of the prepared ingredients, including the juice from the tomatoes into a large bowl and toss gently with the vinaigrette. Serve this salad within 10 minutes to be at its best. By doing this, the bread will be the correct texture you are trying to achieve - soft and crunchy!