Panzanella is a traditional summer salad originating from Tuscany. Not only is it a refreshing side dish or meal on a warm sunny day, but it is also a great way to make use of any stale bread you may have left over in your kitchen. Nothing goes to waste in our house! After all, some of the most interesting dishes are ones created from leftovers.
With the weather getting warmer, and with some leftover bread I made a few days ago, this salad, which happens to be one of my favorites, came immediately to mind. The original Panzanella normally contains tomatoes, onion, basil and cucumber, however, I decided to add some pre-boiled octopus instead for the additional texture and color.
As an Ambassador of pizza, water is an extremely important component for cooking. Though many take water for granted, the subtle and large range of water flavors make a great difference in many dishes. In this particular salad, I found that adding San Pellegrino offered a crisper flavor.
Serve this salad as a main dish for lunch or as a side dish/entrée for dinner.
300 ml San Pellegrino water
170 g Stale bread, sliced (country loaf, baguette or focaccia)
100 g Large red onion (cut in half)
2 tbsp vinegar
200 ml San Pellegrino water
TOMATO MIX PREP:
250 g Vine or cherry tomatoes
5 g Fresh basil
1 clove Garlic
½ tsp Salt
1 tbsp Vinegar
3 tbsp Olive oil
200 g Octopus (pre-boiled)
- Place sliced bread at the bottom of a large bowl and pour in 300 ml San Pellegrino. Push the bread down slightly so that the slices are submerged and begin absorbing the water.
- Slice tomatoes into thin rounds and reserve in a medium sized bowl.
- Slice the red onion thinly and place in a medium sized bowl. Add 250 ml San Pellegrino water, together with 2 tbsp vinegar – which will help reduce the sharp flavor of the onion. Allow to rest while preparing the other ingredients.
- Slice the octopus into chunks using the Chinese method of “roll and cut”. Set aside, reserving enough of the tentacle ends for each person being served.
- Chop basil leaves, anchovies and garlic together on a chopping board and add to the bowl of tomatoes, gently mixing the ingredients together. Add ½ tsp salt, 1 tbsp vinegar and 3 tbsp olive oil, and finally, the chunks of octopus to the tomato mixture and toss gently with a fork and spoon / spatula. Leave to chill in the refrigerator for around 30 minutes.
- Strain the bread, squeezing the bread slices, removing most of the water, and then crush up the bread with your hands into a large bowl.
- Strain the onion slices and squeeze out as much of the water as possible. Add the onion slices to the bread, gently squeeze and mix the two ingredients together using your hands.
- Take the tomato mixture out from the refrigerator and add it to the large bowl of bread and onion. Toss well with a fork and spoon / spatula. Allow the salad to macerate and chill in the refrigerator for around 30 minutes.
- Once chilled, remove from refrigerator, plate, drizzle a bit of olive oil over each serving and top with an octopus tentacle and a basil leaf as garnish.