Tuscan Panzanella Salad
To celebrate my amazing mother conquering breast cancer, my parents traveled to Italy a few years ago for the trip of a lifetime. The trip included a week long stay at a beautiful monastery in Tuscany, where they had one on one cooking lessons with a local Italian Chef. One of the recipes they brought home with them was a Tuscan Panzanella Salad. They shared it with us at a Sunday family dinner and we were instantly in love! Of course Chef Jered had to explore his own version, which has since become a fan favourite with our catering clients.
This salad is a tasty marriage of Chef Jered's homemade curried croutons and the staples of a traditional Greek Salad (cukes, peppers, tomatoes, feta). Add Chef Jered's champagne vinaigrette, throw in some salty capers, fresh parsley and basil, and you have a spectacular hearty salad perfect for these last lingering summer days.
We wanted to share this tasty recipe so you can experience a bit of Italy from the comfort of your own home, since no one is travelling any time soon!
Along with our recipe, we wanted to share these priceless Italian Proverbs:
Essere buono come il pane // Be as good as bread.
To be as good as bread means to be a really good person. This is a way to say someone is nice, kind, altruistic. If you say someone is a “piece of bread” you mean that they’re good. It’s often used regarding children or to tell someone that they can trust another person.
Essere come il prezzemolo // Be like parsley.
This expression means that a person or a thing can be found everywhere, just like parsley. Parsley is an omnipresent ingredient in Italian cuisine, it can be found just about everywhere, so if you’re like parsley, then it means you pop up everywhere.
A tavola non si invecchia // At the table you don't get old.
There are few Italian food proverbs that express overarching Italian values better than this one. It means that with good company and good food, time doesn’t pass. You can spend hours chatting over a meal with friends and it will never be time wasted and its an Italian philosophy that still exists today.
TUSCAN PANZANELLA SALAD
Half a loaf of rustic focaccia bread cut into generous cubes
To make Chef Jered's curried croutons: Combine 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp sugar, 4 tbsp olive oil. Cover bread cubes and toss to coat. Lay out evenly on a cookie sheet, bake at 375* til bread is brown and dried throughout. (approx 20 - 30 mins).
2-3 handfuls of cherry tomatoes cut in half
1/2 a red onion thinly sliced
1 large cucumber - peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 yellow pepper - seeded, ribs removed, and chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3 tbsp capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Chef Jered's Champagne Vinaigrette
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
1 tbsp grainy dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup good quality champagne vinegar
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Bake croutons as directed above. Add all the chopped vegetables, feta and capers and mix with the croutons. Drizzle vinaigrette 20 minutes before serving to soften croutons. Finish with fresh parsley and basil. Buon appetito!