Fresh and flavorful Tuscan cuisine was born of frugality; likewise the cuisine of Peggy Lampman. Not a breadcrumb goes to waste if I can help it. Tuscan bread is typically a rustic-styled bread with a thick crust and chewy exterior. The bread is used like a sponge to sop up other heartier flavors. I have an similar-styled artisan bread sitting on my counter, about 2 or 3 days old. It’s too hard to simply slice and serve, but it’s absolutely perfect for one of my favorite Tuscan summer salads: Panzanella.
I’ve made many versions of this classic salad through the years. Whatever leftover artisan bread I have dictates the bread I use. Pumpernickel is a particular favorite because of its flavor and the contrast of the dark bread with the cucumbers. If I have any Zingerman’s day old paesano, Italian, sour dough or pumpernickel, I’ve hit panzanella pay-dirt! (Busch’s and Arbor Farms sell day-old Zingerman’s bread for a reduced price.) The bread can be used simply chopped, toasted in the oven or grilled. I prefer the texture of the bread toasted or grilled. Tonight is too hot for the oven so I will grill the bread outside.
Roasted peppers of any sort are always a flavorful addition to panzanella, as are olives. Adding capers, for me, is a given. But the main ingredients of a classic panzanella should not be altered: Tomatoes, cucumbers and crusty artisan bread. Meijers is selling tomatoes ($.88#) and cucumbers (3/$1.00), locally grown at Ruhlig Farms in Carleton, Michigan. Tonight’s dinnerFeed is decided! (This would be delicious served with Grilled Balsamic Chicken Breasts: July 23rd, dinnerFeed)