Back when I made that Spring Panzanella, I decided I was going to do one for every season. This is the summer one. Oh. You got that?
So I was eating this and I was thoroughly enjoying it, but then I realized that I was leaving a lot of the bread at the bottom of my bowl. Too much bread. I started off with probably about half of it in my serving bowl and layered all the other ingredients on top. Then at some point (I think I was drunk) I just dumped in the rest. Unnecessary. Unwise.
So what’s the deal with panzanella anyway? I still don’t “get” it. The husband was like, “Here’s what I don’t like about it: the soggy bread.” Now, I wouldn’t call this bread “soggy.” It’s not soggy, just soft. When I think of soggy bread, I think of a tuna fish sandwich that’s been sitting in your locker for too long. Your outside locker. In the Florida heat.
But then there’s the soggy bread that you sometimes discover at the bottom of your bowl of mussels, which is pretty delightful and delicious! And what about the bread of strata and bread pudding and French toast? Would that be considered “soggy”? What about ribollita?
Right, so I’ve been thinking a lot about soggy bread. And I’m really curious to know others’ opinions. What’s your tolerance when it comes to soggy, or soft, bread?
Anyway, this panzanella. It’s very pretty, right? Nice bright, vibrant summertime colors. It was good. It would’ve been better with smaller pieces of bread, and less of it. Like if it was just a summer vegetable salad with some croutons. But that wouldn’t be panzanella, would it? We’ll see how I do with the fall one.
This recipe is extremely flexible. Use whatever vegetables you like. Some suggestions: fava, lima, or cranberry beans; zucchini and squash; carrots; assorted peppers; bacon or pancetta, oooh.
- 1 large baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 medium to large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cucumber, cut into large dice
- 2 to 4 cobs of corn
- 1/2 cup diced green pepper
- 1/2 cup blanched, 1-inch piece green beans
- 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1/4 cup olive oil, more to taste
- 1/4 cup vinegar, more to taste
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- about 10 leaves fresh basil, torn
- crumbled feta or goat cheese, or shaved parmesan, for topping
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spread bread cubes in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until toasted and light golden brown.
- Blanch the green beans. Trim, and cut into 1-inch pieces. Plunge into boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until bright green and crisp tender. Drain, then plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process. Set aside for about 10 minutes. Drain.
- Shuck the corn and cut the kernels off the cobs. Cook corn kernels in a dry, heavy skillet with a smidgen of olive oil until corn is bright yellow and very fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside.
- Combine bread, vegetables, oregano, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Toss well, and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Top with torn basil leaves and cheese. Add more salt, pepper, oil, and/or vinegar to taste.