June's Recipe of the Month - Authentic Tuscan Panzanella (Bread and Tomato Salad)


Authentic Tuscan Panzanella (Bread and Tomato Salad)

This is one of Chef Dean Chambers’ favorite summer salads! The fresh vegetables mixed with crunchy ciabatta bread, bathed in red wine vinaigrette are a delightful side for any barbeque.

Make sure you dry out your bread in the oven to give it a chance to absorb the dressing without getting too soggy!

Ingredients (Makes 8 servings):

  • Ciabatta bread, cut up to make 6 cups of bite size cubes
  • 10 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 lbs of sweet cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 can of cannellini beans
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese (divided)
  • Bite size fresh mozzarella (optional)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F and adjust rack to center position.
2. Cut ciabatta bread into bite size cubes.
3. Place them in a large bowl and mix with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a tsp of salt, freshly ground pepper, and a ¼ cup of parmesan.
4. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
5. Bake until firm but not browned, about 15 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and let cool.
7. Wash and cut tomatoes in half.
8. Cut the cucumber into small pieces.
9. In a small bowl, add shallot, garlic, mustard, and vinegar.
10. Whisk and drizzle ½ cup olive oil.
11. Add salt and pepper to taste
12. Combine bread, tomatoes, cucumber, cannellini beans, and mozzarella to a large bowl.
13. Add dressing and basil leaves.
14. Toss gently to coat.
15. Let sit 30 minutes before serving.