Classic panzanella salad
This classic Italian bread and tomato salad manages to be fresh and summery, but still hearty enough to eat as a light supper or lunch. Salting and draining the tomatoes produces tons of flavourful liquid to build up a lot of vinaigrette—essential for rehydrating the dried bread.
We made this salad to eat with a tender T-bone steak and a glass of red wine.
- 1 kg mixed tomatoes cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 teaspoons salt plus more for seasoning
- 350 grams ciabatta or rustic sourdough bread cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups bread cubes)
- 10 tablespoons Australian extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 1 small shallot minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 medium cloves garlic minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup packed basil leaves roughly chopped
Place tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl and season with 2 teaspoons salt. Toss to coat. Set aside at room temperature to drain, tossing occasionally, while you toast the bread. Drain for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C and adjust rack to centre position. In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crisp and firm but not browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Remove colander with tomatoes from bowl with tomato juice. Place colander with tomatoes in the sink. Add shallot, garlic, mustard, and vinegar to the bowl with tomato juice. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine toasted bread, tomatoes, and dressing in a large bowl. Add basil leaves. Toss everything to coat and season with salt and pepper. Let rest for 30 minutes before serving, tossing occasionally until dressing is completely absorbed by bread.